Go With the Flow
How GRB airport uses video analytics to detect reverse flow on the concourse
- By Karl Radke
- Oct 03, 2016
You’ve seen it happen before. Passengers are deplaning and
straggling down the exit corridor. Suddenly one of them
reverses direction. Is he simply going back to retrieve a
forgotten cellphone? Or, are his intentions more sinister?
Who can be sure? But the moment this person goes against the flow,
an alarm goes off at the airport public safety command center and
the adjacent TSA security checkpoint. Officers are dispatched to the
exit lane and all travelers are required to exit the concourse. How is
this immediate, real-time alert possible? The airport is using sophisticated
video analytics embedded in its video surveillance system.
In this era of heightened vigilance, airports like Green Bay Austin
Straubel International (GRB) are recognizing that adding analytics to
their video surveillance system is a powerful force multiplier.
Analyzing Potential Threats
“Ten years ago when we modified our concourses we put in some exit
lane technology to provide security without having to station a person
at the door 20 hours a day,” said Tom Miller, director for Green
Bay Austin Straubel International Airport. “But as that technology
neared the end of its lifespan, we were starting to get a number of
In 2015, GRB decided to replace its old technology with savVi,
Agent Vi’s on-premise video analytics platform. The analytics work in
conjunction with high-definition Axis network video cameras and a
Milestone XProtect Video Management System to detect individuals
going the wrong way on concourse exit lanes and Security Identification
Display Areas (SIDA). When an event occurs, savVi automatically
sends a visual and audio alert to TSA agents and the airport
Public Safety Command Center. At the command center, a live-view
of the event automatically pops up on the video wall. With multiple
cameras trained on the area, security is able to ascertain whether the
individual made contact with anyone else in the vicinity.
Coverage from Tarmac to Tower
Video analytics is just one part of a comprehensive security system
GRB uses to protect more than 350,000 passengers, 185,000 pounds
of air cargo and thousands of commercial and charter aircraft annually.
The two-runway airport is served by three major airlines, American
Eagle, Delta, and United/Continental Airlines, that provide 30
daily departures and connections to destinations around the world.
The airport also hosts a number of support businesses: a parking
lot facility, car rental agencies, a restaurant and lounge, gift shops and
two Fixed-base Operators who provide maintenance, airline and general
aviation refueling, charter services and pilot training. The FAA and
the TSA have regional bases of operations at the airport and the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection has offices in the terminal to clear corporate
aircraft entering the United States from around the world.
“We’ve deployed more than 140 HDTV-resolution Axis cameras
throughout the airport,” said Mark Hall, the electrician and system
installer for the Green Bay airport. “We put them just about everywhere:
on our tower, in the parking lot, in the terminal building, at
our vehicle drive-through gates. Basically, we cover everything inside
the fence except the restrooms.”
While GRB standardized on the Axis network cameras product
line, the airport availed itself of a wide variety of camera models and
features to address their coverage goals for each location under surveillance.
For instance, to monitor passenger foot traffic through the
exit lane corridors, the airport uses a combination of Axis indoor
HDTV-quality fixed dome network cameras and thermal network
cameras integrated with Agent Vi’s video analytics. To monitor the
airfield, GRB installed an Axis outdoor-ready HDTV-quality PTZ
dome network camera with 20x zoom on the roof of the terminal.
To deter theft and vandalism in its vehicle storage areas, GRB installed
Axis one-megapixel day/night fixed dome network cameras
in their vehicle maintenance and Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting
facilities. To monitor concourse gate rooms and curbside passenger
drop-off/pick-up areas, GRB uses Axis light-sensitive, HDTV-quality
fixed dome network cameras with P-iris control for optimal image
quality in all lighting conditions.
GRB uses Axis thermal network cameras on the runways to monitor
the movement of airplanes, service vehicles and personnel. savVi,
Agent Vi’s software, analyzes the camera images to differentiate between
people, vehicles and static objects. savVi automatically sends an
alert to security personnel when it detects people present in a vehicleonly
lane or other restricted area.
Taking an Intelligent Approach to Security
Even with a TSA presence, local airports face many of the same challenges
as their larger hub-based counterparts yet possess fewer resources
to deal with them. Finding ways to quickly neutralize insider
threats and tighten concourse security with limited budgets and personnel
have become hot topics for action.
What many smaller airports like GRB are learning is that adding
video analytics to their surveillance systems provides the essential
force multiplier they need for early detection and rapid response to
potentially threatening situations.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Security Today.