Air terminals are no longer spaces where you simply take a flight, now they are large commercial infrastructures that demand a robust security scheme to guarantee full protection for their users.

By Juan Carlos George *

Latin American airports circulated more than 245 million passengers 1, an important figure if you think about all the efforts involved in keeping that number of users safe and away from any potential risk.

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But in addition to the flow of visitors, which as we said is enough, it must be mentioned that air terminals have been converted into commercial spaces where, in addition to cafes, magazine stands and souvenir shops, retail chains, restaurants and other services converge . This forces the security strategy not only to focus on the passengers, but also on the goods and services offered at the current airports.

As if this cocktail was not enough, it is undeniable that the security situation in the region is challenging on its own. And is that Latin American media constantly report criminal situations that happen at local airports. For example, in February of last year, the Citizens Council of Mexico City reported that the theft of baggage in the air terminal of the Mexican capital increased an 25% during the 2017.

Also in March of last year, the General Prosecutor of Colombia reported that it would initiate investigations to determine the extent to which officials at El Dorado airport (Bogotá) were involved in the inclusion of drugs in their luggage. In the same vein, in August 2017 arrested a woman who had drugs in her body and who was trying to travel to Spain from Jorge Chávez airport in Lima, capital of Peru.

Faced with this scenario composed of so many variables, all of them important, the only thing that remains for the airports is to look for how to protect themselves and protect themselves against any criminal act. And it is that the public security resides in the heart of the airport operations, from the tasks of check in to the collection of taxis; that is why airports must adapt their security to face potential threats.

Simultaneously, the terminals have seen how advances in software and integration systems have enabled uses that go far beyond safety. And of this not only Latin American airports have been aware. In fact, terminal one of Jhon F. Kennedy International Airport (New York) entrusted its security to an analog surveillance system and an old IP system, which did not communicate with each other.

Obviously these two tools were inadequate and lacked the functionality required by this terminal, so that users could only watch video from different work stations, it was difficult to replace or add cameras and the system was not easily integrated with others. Migrating from this old analog system to an IP VMS platform was an important project. Due to the high security environment required by airports, the system and all its cameras had to continue operating throughout the migration.

How to solve this situation?
Taking into account that the demand of users at airports is constantly growing and that each time the air terminals are growing and varying the services and goods they offer, it is very important to implement an open and expandable VMS platform, such as the one offered by Milestone through of its XProtect solution, allowing airports to enhance their security in different ways, such as:

Store management: As we mentioned before, now airports are also shopping centers that, given the variety of products and services they offer, pose challenges such as defining how to pass the goods through customs and security controls. Due to the above, video systems can help businesses and retailers located in airports to meet this need through alerts, verification of video incidents, video integration with the systems used by the points of sale for verify transactions and general surveillance to improve and improve operations in general.

Fraud in parking lots and drivers' management: Given the large size of airport parking lots, there are users who plagiarize the ticket to pay less for the parking service. That is why the security teams of some terminals around the planet are working on the reduction of fraud and the recovery of lost property, through the recording of vehicle license plates and their association with parking tickets.

Verification of shared transportation: Given the overcrowding of shared transportation services (such as Uber or Cabify) that have to pay a fee when they are in an airport, it is necessary to reach a special verification level, since the drivers claim to be in the terminals for personal reasons. To solve the situation, airports are using video management systems and high-definition cameras on the sidewalks of the terminal, in order to obtain real-time images of the license plates and people boarding the vehicles. In addition, the LPR video analytics (License Plate Recognition), it is possible that curbside management systems can automatically request taxis when required and charge the fee for those carriers operating in the area. airport.

Baggage handling: Bearing in mind that thousands of suitcases are handled at an airport, the video monitoring of the luggage attention areas allows the operational divisions to be attentive to the personnel in charge of dispatching suitcases. When there is a security anomaly with luggage, the airport must guarantee access to the video to the airline and the terminal involved, so that the relevant authorities can monitor all suitcases. The video system provides information to those involved so they can see what happened with the luggage and provide visual data to the emergency operations center, where the staff can monitor the situation from their point of view.

Perimeter Protection: Airports are adapters of technologies designed to detect and report anomalies in the process of managing people, vehicles and aircraft. An example of this is the use of Doppler radar detection systems, with which you can identify people or vehicles that are approaching the airport fence or suspicious items abandoned in the terminal or on nearby roads.

Mobile access: Managers currently must not be in the terminal to monitor events in the terminal. Now executives can access video in real time from their mobile devices, using solutions such as Milestone Mobile. Thanks to this type of tools it is possible that the security teams and operations have access to the video system from their tablets or cell phones to be able to monitor the airport. Also, technicians use mobile access to solve problems or review and adjust the parameters and positioning of the cameras.
As can be seen, the needs of the different airports will continue to evolve and that is why it is necessary to migrate towards a philosophy more focused on operations and services, such as IT (information technology). It is possible that the cameras look the same, but what they can achieve is defined by an open platform software that will cover the future demands of the air terminals, which will be framed in new ways of handling and adding information.

* Juan Carlos George is the sales manager of Milestone Systems for Latin America.

Author: Duván Chaverra

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