The Right Combination

The Right Combination

North Central Washington airport seeks performance in security upgrade

Jointly owned and operated by the ports of Chelan and Douglas Counties, Pangborn Memorial Airport plays a vital role in connecting the North Central Washington region to the national and international air transport systems. The airport’s daily scheduled service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport provides the region with onestop connecting service to 20 major international and 75 domestic destinations. A 2001 study commissioned by the Washington Department of Transportation found that Pangborn Memorial Airport directly and indirectly supports 632 jobs and contributes more than $47 million annually to the local economy.

Accommodating Growth

For Pangborn Memorial Airport, the reasons for a network refresh were many. Airport growth was prompting the addition of new technologies— such as VoIP phones, an IP-based TV system, a new security access control system, a parking payment kiosk and an IP surveillance system—all of which required a stronger and more robust network to handle the increased traffic.

The airport’s previous network gear was severely limited by 100 MBps switching. In order to carry the airport’s new IP surveillance data, VoIP and IP-based TV traffic, its network needed a Gigabit backbone, PoE functionality and the ability to prioritize data traffic across VLANs.

While these changes were planned to take place gradually over the course of two budget cycles, other factors prompted the need for a quicker timetable.

On April 30, 2015, a community partnership between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Fire District, Pangborn Memorial Airport, RiverCom Dispatch and Ballard/Lifeline Ambulance had planned to conduct a full-scale mock “Active Shooter” training and functional emergency exercise at the Pangborn Memorial Airport. To capture the important footage from this exercise, Pangborn Memorial Airport moved the installation of IP surveillance cameras to the top of the priority list.

Network cameras for IP surveillance, plus managed Layer 2 switches that provide secure connections, faster speed, enhanced performance and improved manageability.

With a pending network overhaul and the fast-approaching emergency exercise, Pangborn Memorial Airport was driven to action. It needed full network performance and comprehensive IP surveillance coverage quickly, all within a very tight budget. Since the current system upgrade was too expensive, the airport began to explore a more affordable solution.

For assistance, Pangborn turned to its technology reseller, Firefly Technology, which also serves as the outsourced IT department for the airport, as well as the Ports of Chelan and Douglas Counties. Because Firefly was already familiar with D-Link’s business-class switching and networking gear, recommending D-Link was an easy choice.

“Although the gear previously installed had all the capabilities Pangborn needed, the cost was significantly higher, especially when you consider all the ongoing SMARTnet contracts to keep the firmware warranties and support active,” said Denton Meier, CEO and chairman of Firefly. “With D-Link, all of the support and warranties are included for life. It just came down to price-per-performance. In addition, the Port of Chelan County had already been using D-Link networking equipment for a number of years and was more than satisfied with its performance.”

With that decision made, Pangborn Memorial Airport began purchasing and installing networking equipment in stages as budget dollars became available. During this time, Firefly was able to upgrade various parts of the airport’s network infrastructure, linking the main terminal to the maintenance facility, the fire station and the general aviation terminal (located about a half-mile away).

“The airport purchased half of the gear last year and the other half this year,” Meier said. “We were all set to deploy the final portions of the solution this year, but the installation got ramped up to a very quick deployment due to the live shooter exercise.”

To get the job done, Firefly installed D-Link managed switches at the network core and light-managed (Smart) switches on the periphery.

“The Smart switches are great because they can do all the VLAN functionality needed for the network edge, while the midrange managed switches had the right feature set for the heavy lifting at the core,” Meier said.

With less than two weeks’ notice, Firefly also installed a variety of D-Link IP cameras— two to upgrade those supervising the payment kiosk in the parking area and another 11 cameras to monitor other areas of the airport. All footage is currently running through Video Insight VMS.

“Once the maintenance team finished the wiring, the whole implementation only took a couple days,” Meier said. “We installed all the cameras, configured them, integrated them with PoE and the NVR software—and finished just in time. I did the final test the night before the shooter exercise. There was a little pressure, but everything worked out great.

“The setup was very easy, and now Pangborn enjoys way more functionality and faster overall networking speed and support for their new services,” Meier said. “Furthermore, with proactive alerts, our company can do a lot of the airport’s network management remotely, which saves us time and helps keep the airport’s costs low.”

In addition, the IP surveillance is doing an excellent job of monitoring multiple locations around the airport and increasing overall security. Recently, the cameras captured high-quality footage of an after-hours vandalism incident in progress—complete with a perfect face shot of the vandal. The footage was turned over to the authorities for follow-up.

In addition, the active shooter exercise proved extremely helpful. Footage collected from the IP cameras was turned over to the North Central Washington Skill Center, where video production students created a recap documentary of the event to be used for future training of police departments, sheriff’s offices, fire departments and other emergency responders in the community.

In the next 12 months, Pangborn Memorial Airport plans to expand its IP surveillance network with at least three more DLink cameras. One will be a high-speed PTZ outdoor dome camera that can quickly zoom onto the runway or other areas to capture specific incidents. Another will be a 360-degree camera that can cover the entire airport grounds at all times. A third camera will capture vehicle licenses at a security gate.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Security Today.

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