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IT Last modified on February 5, 2020

Passport to safety

John Newbury, product manager at Ramtech Electronics, looks at how advances in wireless technology and cloud-based data can deliver multiple benefits to airside operations.

Airport security conjures up images of metal detectors, scanners and long queues at check-in. Of course, it’s far broader than that, much of it unseen, and involves monitoring and securing the wider airport estate infrastructure.

The sheer size of an airport adds to the complexity, although advances in wireless technology means that it is now possible to scale up over very large geographic sites. As a consequence, wireless connectivity, internet and apps are becoming an integral part of airside operations.

Wireless technology

Incorporating wireless technology with cloud-based data capture allows airport estates to implement a fully integrated fire, security and medical response system. This can be supported by apps that interpret and respond to the data received.

In this scenario, the facilities management team are able to receive real-time information regarding site emergencies, and instantly send customised alerts out to relevant site personnel.

This kind of technology is specifically developed for communicating fire, medical and other site emergencies to affected personnel both on and off site. These can be transmitted via any internet connected device (for example, fire alarm call points, security doors etc), whilst apps enable instant response decisions by management teams from any mobile device.

Practical benefits include the ability to alert emergency response teams when an intruder or unauthorised member of staff is detected opening a security door on site, whilst it can equally be applied to lone worker situations.

Here, security patrols can raise a medical alert via call points from remote areas of the site, or alternatively, a ‘welfare check in’ functionality can be set that requires personnel to send a signal every 10 minutes verifying that they are ok.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Data is now routinely collated from a wide range of airside devices and this is possible through advances in Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless technology, combined with cloud-based service applications.

This data can be stored, processed and transmitted via cloud technology applications to any nominated personnel, providing valuable management information. For example, it enables operators to wirelessly monitor security and fire alerts, equipment failure and smart energy metering in real-time from any internet connected device.

In terms of the latter, it provides historic data enabling identification of energy trends and opportunities to reduce energy use.

Data and information are now regularly gathered on airport sites in this way, where it can be cloud-based and used by the people that require it, when, where and in whatever format is appropriate.

The system can also be used to send an SMS alert to the facilities team if there is a breach of an entrance security barrier, indicating that there has been an unauthorised entry onto the facility.

The sheer size of modern airports has to be taken into account when specifying any wireless system to help ensure that there are no “dead spots” (areas where wireless coverage is not available), and that coverage is maintained when roaming between call points. A reputable company will always be able to guide you in ensuring site-wide coverage.

An ability to integrate all these wireless technologies is helping make airports safer and more efficient. It can be personalised, too, depending on the site requirement, which can involve monitoring security and fire alerts, equipment failure and smart energy metering.

We can see that there are a number of ways that connectivity and Internet of Things are helping the airport sector and that can only be a good thing for the future.

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