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SAFETY & SECURITY Last modified on September 26, 2012

Analyse this

David Thomasson considers the benefits of intelligent video in the airport security environment.

There is no doubt that aviation faces its own unique set of security challenges and that operating environments do not come much more complex than an airport.

Airports, after all, occupy huge sites, and security incidents can occur anywhere on them at practically any time of the day or night owing to the long operating hours of most gateways.

Incidents can happen ‘landside’ or ‘airside’, for example, and anywhere in the terminal building itself to as far away as the airport perimeter, car parks and even onboard vehicles and planes. 

As a result, one of the security dilemmas faced by airports is the need to be able to simultaneously cover all these areas in real time and feed the information to the appropriate authorities.

The truth today is that, despite a massive amount of CCTV footage  and IP video being recorded, the vast majority of it is never watched  or reviewed because of lack of time, meaning that events and activities are missed, and suspicious behaviour is not noticed in time to prevent incidents.

The situation has led to the development of video analytics or intelligent video, where the network video surveillance system automatically performs an analysis of the captured video images and  can now add real value to surveillance installations.

Intelligent analysis at the edge

Network video (or IP surveillance) cameras now include a range  of analytics, such as motion detection, cross-line detection,  people counting and anti-tampering detection, together with two-way audio capability. 

Furthermore, by processing the video in the network cameras themselves – ‘at the edge’, for example – the load on the network  is significantly reduced as only relevant video is streamed from  the cameras.

Intelligent video applications, therefore, help to build video surveillance systems that are more cost-effective.

Business intelligence

The higher resolution images now available with network video cameras not only lead to crystal clear pictures for the operator, but also mean that the use of more complex video analytics is now a reality.

As network video cameras can be used for applications outside  security, intelligent video makes it possible to extract greater  benefit from the video surveillance infrastructure, enabling a higher return on investment. 

Software vendors now supply intelligent video applications that solve specific needs –consumer behaviour analysis and people flow,  for example.

While this creates great freedom of choice for the end-user, it requires compatibility and easy integration between the cameras and the intelligent video applications. 

Video surveillance company, Axis Communications, has developed an open platform that enables third-party suppliers to develop compatible and more complex applications that can be downloaded  to their cameras.

Using analytics for detection

A good example of a software vendor that has developed video applications to solve specific needs for the aviation sector is Agent Vi,  a leading provider of video analytics software which is deployed in a variety of security, safety and business intelligence applications.

Vi-System is Agent Vi’s real-time video analytics software, which transforms standard surveillance networks into intelligent and effective detection and alert systems.

Airports face security and safety challenges because of the high number of passengers passing through them on a daily basis. And with some gateways handling tens of thousands of passengers at any one time, it is imperative that they are aware of security and safety breaches because of the possible impact on airport operations and, ultimately, people’s lives.

Agent Vi’s products are well suited to serving mass transportation hubs, as they effortlessly pinpoint security breaches, alert staff to safety hazards, protect valuable assets, provide data and information  to enhance operational efficiency and offer powerful forensic  analysis capabilities.

Indeed, a major US hub recently installed a surveillance network that included Axis pan, tilt, zoom network video cameras and Vi-System intelligent video software when upgading from a surveillance system, which offered video recording used for information gathering in the post-event phase, to a ‘live’ system which offers real-time detections and a much greater understanding of threats as they unfold.

This landmark adoption of video analytics is just one example of a transportation hub moving from using surveillance exclusively as a tool for loss prevention or worker safety to leveraging it as a real-time threat detection and prevention system.

Powering the surveillance system with such a system means that the security teams are automatically alerted, in real time, to the entry and movement of people and vehicles in restricted areas, allowing them to respond as the security breach emerges.


Managing your video

Another software developer that has developed video analytics, which are helping transport authorities to both manage their security and improve operational efficiency, is Ipsotek.

Ipsotek’s areas of expertise within the transport sector include fare evasion detection, obstacle detection, perimeter protection, passenger counting and crowd management.

Crowd management offers various benefits with applications such as people counting to indicate how many people are in an airport and within designated areas, density management to ensure health and safety regulations are consistently met while improving safety evacuation procedures, and counter-flow detection to show how many passengers deliberately go against the desired flow of traffic.

Queue management measures the time customers are waiting, allowing airports to optimise staff deployment and improve customer service.

All data is collected and statistical reports offered to end-users based on specific requirements. This provides management with information that is used to identify problem areas and areas of improvement, and the data can be stored for use in future developments.

Ipsotek has even developed people and vehicle tracking technology, which allows operators to track multiple targets in large surveillance networks.

Targets are tagged either manually, by  clicking on the screen, or automatically, based  on predefined rules. The technology supports overlapping and non-overlapping camera  views while supporting both live and forensic  operation modes.

Face to face with suspicious passengers

One area of analytics, which is proving  particularly useful in the aviation sector, is the  use of facial recognition technology, as it helps authorities to identify and monitor known criminals  or suspicious passengers.

NEC’s NeoFace suite is one of the most accurate facial recognition software tools available on the market, and it provides fast matching capability that  is resistant to variants in angle, age and race.

The time and resources required to search the growing volume of recorded video to identify specific individuals is challenging.

In fact, this solution, and solutions like it, searches for specific individuals in large volumes of recorded video using extended search capabilities and sophisticated facial recognition technology.

Previously processed video footage can be used  to populate databases of ‘seen’ individuals, which allows authorities to search for specific people of interest to determine if, when and where they have been in the airport.

Additionally, the NeoFace Match is  specifically designed to allow authorities to  match photographs against these databases, ranking the database images against the probe image, allowing the operator to scroll through the top matches.

The police are charged with identifying   wanted individuals in public places, and airport security managers need to keep such people off  their premises.

Today’s facial recognition technology is specifically designed to integrate with video surveillance processes by extracting faces in real time from CCTV footage and matching against a watch list of individuals.

This is saving transport authorities valuable time, which was previously spent trawling through hours of footage. It is also ensuring that known criminals are identified in real time, whereas previously they may have been easily missed.

The sound of surveillance

Intelligent video is now even making it possible to monitor suspicious sounds – in essence, providing airport authorities with IP surveillance systems that can hear as well as see.

Sound Intelligence has developed advanced audio analytics designed to help to prevent violence and crime by recognising specific sounds in real time, allowing operators to respond to incidents before they escalate. 

Its patented technology, Sigard, is the only audio detection technology based on a linear model of the human ear and from a huge database of sounds it is capable of distinguishing a large range of sounds in real-life situations, such as gunshots/explosions, aggression/panic screams, breaking glass and spray-can and graffiti detection.

As well as being used for security applications, sound analytic technology, such as Sigard, can be used for condition monitoring,  for example automatic detection of defects in mechanical equipment.

Maintaining smooth operations

Airports are exposed to a host of incidents every day, ranging from vandalism and petty theft to more serious offences such as robbery  and violence.

As the recent fatal shooting of three policemen at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport proved – passengers allegedly dived for cover when suspected drug traffickers opened fire on police in the food court of Terminal 2 – even major incidents may not necessarily impact on  aircraft operations.

However, the potential disruption to services that such incidents pose is a major concern for airports, and this is where intelligent video can make a real difference as quite simply nothing compares to being automatically alerted to possible danger before it happens.

And when the warning is in the shape of intelligent video, it comes with crystal clear surveillance video footage in real time, so that any challenge can be quickly and efficiently handled to ensure that services continue to run smoothly and that property, staff and passengers are  kept safe.

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