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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

BAA are in talks with video analytics suppliers for installing virtual tripwires in UK airports

06 July, 2007
British airports may soon get video analytical software to boost the effectiveness of existing CCTV systems after the British Airport Authority have been having discussions with suppliers of video analytics software.
The 'virtual tripwire' is being heralded as the obvious next step for tightening airport security and there is unquestionably a place for the use of video analytics in airports. Examples include recognising suspicious behaviour, detecting unauthorised access to restricted zones, spotting debris, animals or vehicles on runways and identifying objects that haven't moved such as discarded packages.

The technology is complex and particularly so in an environment like an airport with high levels of activity but the capabilities of video analytics are now at a level of sophistication that can cope with this.

The limitations centre around the way they are set up and the acknowledgement that intelligence is still too strong a word for many of the available systems. Video analytics work best when the system knows what to look for and can easily recognise it. Once an alert is triggered, there needs to be an operational process behind the technology so that the reaction can be effective since this technology is best used for protection and enforcement rather than evidence gathering.

In this respect, the claims by some suppliers that the technology could have prevented the summer attack on Glasgow airport where a Jeep was driven into the entrance doors of Terminal 1 and set ablaze are at odds with the ability to do anything about what the analytics pick up. In this case, vehicular access to the terminal building was too close and prevention of that kind of incident comes from an inability of vehicles to be able to get near the terminal building. Video analytics could have detected the speed and direction of the vehicle but at that stage its questionable whether anything could have been done in the remaining time before impact.

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