Airport environments have become more sophisticated and complex over the course of the last 20 years. What was once a simple structure to facilitate travel from point A to point B has now been transformed into a hustling and bustling setting that offers passengers the comforts and conveniences of a small city. As a result, the complexity of risks that airport operators face has grown exponentially.

Security personnel must now mitigate risks like terrorism, theft, personal safety and insider threats all while streamlining operations to help preserve a positive passenger experience. Beyond the visual of long and winding security checkpoint lines, most travelers are unaware of the vast amounts of work that take place behind the scenes to ensure their safety.

Increasing passenger numbers

On top of the typical, day-to-day concerns security operators face, airports are only becoming busier. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2018 was a record-breaking year for air passenger travel. U.S. airlines and foreign airlines operating in the United States saw 1 billion passengers fly, which was a 4.8% increase from 2017. As these numbers continue to increase, the demand on airport security personnel to keep people and property safe also increases.

This is why the latest advancements in security technology are critical as part of a comprehensive and cohesive airport security strategy. Let’s take a look at some of these advancements and how they are helping airport security operators mitigate risk.

The latest advancements in security technology are critical as part of a comprehensive and cohesive airport security strategy
U.S. airlines and foreign airlines operating in the United States saw 1 billion passengers fly, which was a 4.8% increase from 2017

Video-based command and control 

Airports are operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means it is paramount (and typically mandated) to have video as the heart of modern-day security operation centers (SOC). In today’s data-focused environment, security personnel rely on a multitude of solutions and systems, which often include video surveillance, access control, alarm notifications, and more, to ensure comprehensive protection of passengers.

What’s needed is a single, unified platform with integrated event management and response

The rising influx of information from these systems can often be overwhelming, and in most cases, manual processes are used to manage across these domains in an attempt to achieve a coordinated response. These manual processes are not scalable. What’s needed and is now being introduced to the market is a single, unified platform with integrated event management and response to allow security operators to maximize situational control and determine the appropriate intelligence-powered response.

Real-time situation management 

The combination of real-time video, with information from a variety of additional sensors, devices and applications is changing the game for airport security personnel. Now, in the event of an incident, security officials can use this data to gain enhanced situational awareness of what’s happening and deliver actionable insights to efficiently and effectively respond to the incident. Through numerous information sources and security systems, airports can benefit from a modernized and enriched investigative experience for a broad and deep understanding of routine or emergency situations. 

Advanced analytics

Analytics are a powerful resource that gives security teams the ability to discover significant patterns and obtain insightful knowledge from video surveillance data. Advanced algorithms can be the key in providing early warnings to assist in detecting threats, helping to establish a proactive security strategy. By effectively correlating and assessing data, airport officials can bring latent intelligence to the forefront and present a more complete view of security situations. Additionally, analytics can automate predefined standard operating procedures to help minimize human error and optimize resource utilization. 

Analytics can automate predefined standard operating procedures to help minimise human error
By effectively correlating and assessing data, airport officials can bring latent intelligence to the forefront and present a more complete view of security situations

Mobile reporting 

The Internet of Things (IoT) and ubiquitous connectivity have brought remote capabilities to airports, where instantaneous information sharing is paramount. Mobile reporting solutions allow passengers and employees to act as additional “eyes and ears”, bringing critical safety alerts to the attention of security officials. Information shared by passengers and employees can be extremely beneficial to help shed light on a security incident and enable faster and more efficient response. Some solutions even offer the ability to share video and audio with the command center through a passenger’s smartphone.

Facial recognition technology

Facial recognition can provide situational intelligence through detecting, tracking, and alerting on persons-of-interest

A powerful and versatile security solution, facial recognition can provide situational intelligence to security operations centres through detecting, tracking, and alerting on persons-of-interest appearing in video streams across multiple sites and thousands of cameras simultaneously. These systems are capable of forensic-search recognition capabilities and can be compared against national, local or custom databases to make investigations faster and more efficient. Interest and adoption of the technology is growing, with new use cases being introduced daily. The solution is sure to become a valuable tool in the years to come.

In short, airports are very much like small connected cities, featuring a landscape with a variety of assets, a wide range of stakeholders, and numerous sites that keep safety at the forefront of the public eye. However, while global risks and day-to-day challenges can be difficult for security operators to manage, today’s advanced and intelligent technologies can ultimately help improve the overall traveler experience. 

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Alan Stoddard VP & GM, Situational Intelligence Solutions, Verint Systems

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