Industry Focus

Going Behind the Scene

Not long ago I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. Of course there are the typical layers of security, but then there is also the security you don’t see. Like the place where your baggage goes to be sorted, searched (sometimes) and spit out to your proper destination.

Passenger security can be a nightmare (Orlando, for example), but it’s nothing like the adventure your luggage will experience. In Quebec, luggage moves through six layers of security. One of the steps, if necessary, will be a manual search.

The Quebec airport is the 12th largest flight terminal in Canada. It’s not big, but it is ultra-modern and a pleasant experience as far as airports go. It used to be managed by the government, but in 2000 it was privatized. That change has been so successful that the airport staff is spending money ($277 million in federal grant money) for expansion. In fact, the terminal is expected to double in size by 2018, and will add self-service technology. Airport officials are also exploring the development of a U.S. Preclearance center.

For me, the tour was all about security. For areas that are restricted, biometrics have been installed. The airport has two active runways that are surrounded by an 8-foot perimeter fence. An inside perimeter roadway allows for consistent patrols and outside the terminal; on the air side, the tarmac is restricted to airplanes and authorized vehicles only. As far as security staff, the airport employs about 200 officers, and they are responsible for the operations control center, terminal patrols and air-side patrols.

Officers that work in the dispatch office are aware of all alarms and understand the proper officer to the scene. You have to wonder how they stay on top of and track everything, including the security we don’t see. Genetec plays a big role in airport security. Integrators that install the equipment are Genetec-approved people.

“We currently have 300 cameras at the airport,” said Christian Labrosse, director of the security and operational control center. “By 2018, we expect to have 500 cameras installed that will provide a general view of the entire airplane side of operations. The cameras are networked with Genetec at the head end.” While on the tour, Genetec president Pierre Racz said that they sell their product to the integrator but that this company plays a key role in getting the solution placed on site.

“We see people using our solutions, using our tools to do things we never imagined,” Racz said. “It is poetry.”

Racz has mentioned several stories about skeptics he faced as he was building Genetec from scratch. They laughed out loud as he showed them networked video management, but as good things often happen, Genetec became the vendor on record to the Montreal Police Department. They are still a top customer, and with that installation, Racz was in the race.

The Genetec VMS offers the hybridization model (Stratocast), introduced in 2013 as a cloud-based solution. The company recently partnered with Microsoft’s Azure. Racz said today’s IT departments are overwhelmed and this cloud solution eases their burden, and is cost-effective overall. The integrator comes out with a win because this establishes a recurring revenue stream.

Not finished with his cloud conversations, Racz talked about hybridization as the final step to cloud. His intent is for Genetec to make it seamless to the end user. He also talked about vulnerability. Racz said today’s cloud is well suited for locations using three to four cameras, but that it is only a matter of time before it is viable for larger applications.

Through older products, one from an acquisition, Genetec believes that its Synergis IP access control will unify with AutoVu (acquired in 2006) license plate recognition. Racz said that his Security Center can integrate with the majority of intrusion detection solutions and with other types of security systems, and work as a common platform. Genetec is searching numerous vertical markets, such as education.

Genetec is big on educating the masses about cloud and the promise of cloud. Christian Morin, vice president of cloud services said when people are educated, it makes implementation much easier. It provides greater flexibility and it lowers the barrier to entry to implement enterprise systems that customers could not afford previously.

One of Genetec’s recently launched initiatives, “citywise” allows for federation and openness to the municipal level where the company can bring in city leaders and educate them on the impact greater security and safety play in the larger picture.

The initiative is how to work with world leaders and build more meaningful cities. Andrew Elvish, vice president of marketing and product management said this leads to networks that are effective and provides sustainable growth. The bottom line, “Cities drive our business,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Security Today.


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