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News

How Video Analytics could have prevented Newark airport chaos

Agent Vi : 06 January, 2010  (Technical Article)
Simple directional movement detection could have alerted security to unauthorized use of exits and analysis of existing video footage could have determined if the Newark airport suspect had been screened, preventing the necessity to re-screen the entire departure area
How Video Analytics could have prevented Newark airport chaos
At 11pm on 3 January 2010, news channels still reported on the search for a man who walked from an unsecured, public hall into a sterile area of the Newark Airport terminal - an incident that occurred more than 5.5 hours earlier, at 5.20pm. A spokeswoman said that the video footage from terminal cameras was still being reviewed, to determine whether the man underwent screening, exited and then returned to the secure area, or alternatively, never underwent screening. Either way, the damage was done - the major aerial transportation hub of Newark Airport was shut down, multiple flights were delayed, and several thousand passengers had to be re-screened.

Ironically, the debacle could have been avoided with a simple upgrade to the
airport's surveillance system. Deploying Agent Vi's Video Analytics solutions - Vi-System or Vi-Search - would have brought about a very different outcome.

Vi-System and Vi-Search - both Video Analytics software - perform analysis of video captured by surveillance systems, enabling quick and effective response to, and investigation of, various security and safety events. Vi-System enables real-time detection of pre-defined events and generates alerts as those events occur, allowing security teams to be alerted in real-time and respond to the breach or incident, as it unfolds. Vi-Search undertakes analysis of events captured in the recorded video, and enables automated and quick search through such stored video to pin-point specific events or targets.

The deployment of Vi-System in Newark Airport could have easily prevented the chaotic scenes. Indeed, numerous international airports already deploy Vi-System, allowing them to be alerted to security and safety breaches in real-time.

Specifically, Vi-System - which can be configured to generate an alert for any person entering through an exit, as well as for a range of other security threats and scenarios - would have instantly detected the man who entered through the exit and alerted the security team, long before he was lost in the crowd causing airport authorities to empty the terminal, physically scan it and re-screen thousands of passengers.

If, for any reason, the trail of the suspect was lost, prompting an immediate need to locate the suspect within the terminal, Vi-Search could have located him. A quick and simple query using Vi-Search could scan the recorded video and identify the suspect instantly, allowing the security team to quickly apprehend him. Such instantaneous search would save the valuable time required to undertake a manual search through the video in order to trace his steps through the terminal. Specifically, Vi-Search could present the person's entire motion path, any objects he might have left in the terminal, and even any interaction he may have had with screened passengers.

Undoubtedly, Agent Vi's Video Analytics solutions could have quickly identified the suspect, and prevented the resulting situation - millions of dollars of losses for the airport and the airlines, not to mention the inconvenience caused to passengers and to scheduling of other flights which were connecting with flights from Newark Airport. The cost associated with installing a Video Analytics solution is infinitesimal compared to the disturbance and losses which can be caused by a terror attack, major accident, or even a simple act such as a person walking through an exit, in the wrong direction.

While the effortless implementation of Video Analytics could have resolved this breach within seconds, 24 hours after the incident, airport security staff was still reviewing the recorded video to identify the trail of the suspect, who by then, was long gone.
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