Exploiting CCTV Systems: enhancing surveillance, situational awareness & intelligence acquisition19 Jun 2012
Too often viewed as being simply an evidential tool, whereby footage is analysed in the aftermath of an incident, closed circuit television (CCTV) can also play a role in an airport’s attempts to prevent criminal or terrorist attacks taking place in the first place. Additionally, intelligent systems can enhance safety and facilitate the operation’s recovery in the event of a disrupting event, whatever the cause. Dr Craig Donald and Jeff Corkill clarify the potential benefits of an active CCTV system and explain how the technological capabilities of solutions currently on the market can, granted capable and appropriately trained operators, be exploited to enhance an airport’s proactive and reactive security objectives.
CCTV is a common but often underappreciated component of the modern airport security arsenal. Indeed, it is so common, that airports often have several control rooms dedicated to monitoring of some kind, yet many of these have little or no contact with each other. Depending on the system objectives and levels of operator expertise, their surveillance capacity may vary widely. Terminal concourses, gates, check-in zones, public areas, baggage make-up and delivery areas, aprons, runways, the perimeter fence and vehicular access points, parking lots and airport approach roads are all covered in various ways. Airports are therefore both complex facilities and institutions with multiple stakeholders with clearly demarked areas of responsibility. Unfortunately this has potential to complicate, duplicate and dilute functions critical to effective security. Leaving aside the fact that integration and the sharing of CCTV capabilities and information is at times a sensitive political and technical issue, it is questionable as to whether CCTV capabilities are fully exploited in the operating spheres of the modern airport domain.
An emerging and strategic development is the increasing use of a broader range of visual imaging technologies to identify threats. These include thermal, millimetre wave, terahertz imaging technology and new applications of X-rays. While many of these can be concentrated at the passenger checkpoint, there is potential for visual imaging with varying technologies at various other flow points within the airport environment, including on the apron, whilst aircraft are being serviced and in baggage make-up areas where airside criminal activity is commonplace. Even within the passenger screening checkpoint, coordinated and active CCTV monitoring of the reaction of passengers to potential detection, searching, questioning techniques, and potential avoidance or anxiety behaviour could add significantly to the effectiveness of the security function. Further, while individual security personnel should be trained to focus on the passenger with whom they are dealing, active CCTV surveillance offers opportunities to see how other people around them are reacting, particularly their travelling companions. These technologies, whether used within a checkpoint environment or at different flow points, can be used in a complimentary fashion. The role of CCTV can be one of information discovery and a provider of information, a key element in target selection, and a potential facilitator of security process in response to specific identified threats or needs.
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