Miami Airport Goes IP

Security convergence has taken a major step at Miami International Airport with Ericsson Federal’s completion of a large-scale customized installation of an integrated digital video, audio and access control system. The deal also represents a substantial inroad by a telecommunications company into security contracting, pointing to the growing significance of large-scale networking experience in security work for major infrastructure points.

More than 15 million travelers pass through the airport each year, placing Miami International in the top 30 worldwide in terms of handling passengers. The airport serves as a major U.S. gateway not only to Europe, but also to Latin America.

Ericsson Federal, Plano, Texas, incorporated in the U.S., is the government system integration arm of Ericsson Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Sweden’s Ericsson AB. Ericsson ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of wireline and wireless switching equipment and networks.This background will be increasingly important, says Frank McGhee, vice president of marketing and business development at Ericsson Federal, as security and IP networking converge.

Ericsson’s telecom and wireless background provides a degree of differentiation from integrators with experience in transportation (Bombardier), building management (Honeywell, General Electric), enterprise networking (IBM, Accenture) and defense (Raytheon). Of its competitors, only Germany’s Siemens and Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif., can boast telecom pedigrees. However, Siemens’ integration activities draw on a far more diversified infrastructure portfolio. Cisco has so far shied away from approaching end users as an integrator on security projects, choosing instead to develop channel partnerships.

High-Speed Video

Ericsson Federal was the lead contractor in the Miami airport project, which brings together equipment and channel partners from a number of sources.

Its solution for Miami International includes live high-speed video surveillance, synchronized with two-way audio intercoms, and supports both digital video and audio recording. The system includes live full-frame video feeds from more than 500 cameras -- along with audio and telemetry information -- linked to security workstations throughout the airport. The system also includes an access control system and alarm system to secure more than 1,000 access points across the airport.

“Digital video and audio integrate with existing CCTV,” McGhee says. The IP backbone network uses asynchronous transfer mode switching, a standardized switching protocol used largely in the telecommunications industry. “ATM offers high reliability, especially for video transmission,” he says. “It’s a robust, hardened solution.”

Elements of the Miami International surveillance system include NICE Systems’ network video recorders and Telindus’ CellStack video management software, McGhee says. He could not disclose the suppliers of access control systems or video cameras, although he says high-definition, megapixel cameras are part of the mix.

The policy-based CellStack system focuses a security officer’s attention only on events that require an officer’s direct involvement.

In the event of a security breach, an automated alarm notifies a security officer at his or her workstation. The security officer can view the video feed in real time and adjust the PTZ camera to follow the event from any camera on the network. Ericsson also added an analytics package to further aid response.

In addition to third party equipment integration, Ericsson brings its own technology to the project. Additional broadband and Ethernet switching comes from Ericsson’s Redback Networks unit. Its Tandberg Television division supplied high-definition MPEG-4 video encoders. Although there’s no use of wireless in Miami International’s security network now, Ericsson is in a position to apply its considerable work with the third generation wireless so-called Long Term Evolution standard, forward-looking technology designed to boost data speeds in commercial wireless networks as high as 100 Mb/s.

“Ericsson brings a comprehensive platform to address video surveillance management end-to-end,” McGee says.

Test Lab On Site

A unique component of the Miami airport contract is an onsite interoperability lab where all multi-vendor surveillance equipment and system components can be tested and verified before being implemented. The lab sees regular use, McGhee says. Cameras, pressure sensors, infrared sensors and other devices have been evaluated. “You work out any integration problems prior to putting it into the network,” he says.

Moreover, with security priorities shifting away from turnkey vendors toward an emphasis on best-of-breed components, Ericsson sees an opportunity to leverage its experience both with networking technology and government contracting into the security space. Like enterprises struggling to mix legacy security systems with newer, network-centric systems, the federal government seeks system integrators that do best-of-breed evaluation and deliver quality products that are compatible, McGhee says. “It means understanding the value proposition and putting together the best solution,” he adds.

With its traditional telecom market maturing and consolidating, the enormous demand for security integration presents Ericsson with a new opportunity to apply network technology, especially with broadband and video. “It’s strategically important to Ericsson,” McGhee says. “It brings together all the capabilities the company has.”

The security surveillance system at Miami International is one example of Ericsson Federal’s National Security and Public Safety solutions. Other Ericsson Federal NSPS solutions include National Border Control systems, emergency response systems and critical area surveillance systems.

“As broadband becomes more prevalent everywhere, we’re right at the center,” McGee says. “We can move into the multimedia or applications space to utilize this great wealth of bandwidth we’re going to see over the coming years.”

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