Management system rises to airport security challenge

Management system rises to airport security challenge

Mineta San Jose Airport enhances security with intelligent operations platform
Staff Reports
Updated: 10-21-2010 1:50 pm

Emily Zimmerman is security operations manager at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Mineta San Jos‚ International Airport (SJC) initiated a comprehensive $1.3 billion, three-year modernization program in 2007.

Known for its temperate climate, highly educated workforce, high technology innovation and one of the nation’s best public safety records, San Jose, Calif., has proven its status as a magnet for visitors, emerging businesses and new residents.
Like many other ongoing regional infrastructure projects designed to meet the growing needs of millions of residents and businesses in Silicon Valley over the next two decades, Mineta San Jos‚ International Airport (SJC) initiated its comprehensive $1.3 billion, three-year modernization program in 2007 to create an efficient, convenient and competitive transportation hub for the 21st Century.
The airport’s modernization project was also designed to create world-class facilities that reflect the innovative, high-tech community it serves. SJC is only three miles from downtown San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley and the close neighbor of some of the world’s largest technology companies such as Google, Apple, Intel, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Adobe, Yahoo and eBay.
Because San Jose is the gateway to this world-renowned concentration of technology businesses, airport officials saw a state-of-the-art video surveillance system as an integral piece of the modernization project. The most critical aspect of the plan involved updating the airport’s analog security system and implementing a technologically advanced video management security solution. Not only would the new, IP-based security system help the airport monitor, identify and prevent potential criminal activity, it would also assist the airport with managing traffic flow of its 8.3 million annual passengers at ticket counters and monitor aircraft traffic on the airfield.
The modernization project, which was completed under budget and ahead of schedule in mid-2010, included the construction of the Terminal B Concourse. The new space, which now connects all terminal facilities, has a total of 28 gates, roomy sunlit waiting lounges for passengers and all new shops and restaurants. The project also involved the removal of Terminal C, built in 1965, and the expansion and renovation of Terminal A, built in 1990, to include new 60 percent more airline ticket counters, additional restaurant and retail concessions, larger security checkpoints and a state-of-the-art baggage handling system.
Other aspects of the project included the addition of jetways, street-level ticketing lobbies, other baggage handling and security systems, and improved roadways. Security checkpoints managed by the Transportation Security Administration were consolidated and streamlined, and a new multi-story car rental facility and public parking garage was built right across the street from the new Terminal B. To facilitate the process, the airport’s entire infrastructure, from pipelines to wiring, was improved or replaced.
The modernization project resulted in an overall increase in the sheer square footage to monitor. Newly configured checkpoints and multiple new secured access points meant that security personnel needed a technological tool to be able to dynamically search for individuals or specific items through the camera system and ultimately be able to manage all their security needs through one interface.

Choosing a Management System
Since cost-effectiveness as well as the continuity of operations at the airport were key components of the project, SJC’s existing analog camera system needed to be seamlessly integrated into the new video management system. Also, to minimize the disruption of airport operations as well as comply with specific TSA requirements during installation, most of the work on the project needed to be completed during the overnight hours when aircraft departures and landings are at a minimum.
For a system design that would meet technology requirements as well as a contractor experienced in working in the airport environment, SJC turned to ID Consulting Solutions of Boise, Idaho. The firm designed and installed the IP-based solution, which integrated with an existing access control system from Software House, along with the newly integrated incumbent Pelco video system.
SJC fully opened its new terminal facilities to the public on June 30, 2010, and security operations at the airport are running as smoothly as ever, thanks to the implementation of the intelligent Security Operations Center (iSOC) platform from DVTel, a new IP-based video management system. The iSOC streamlined day-to-day airport operations by centralizing security management functions into an IP-based platform as well as integrating other security functions, such as the Software House CCURE 800 access control system, for improved awareness and response times.
“This installation was quite diverse, with multiple integrations, unique system configurations, and a lot of network complexity,” says Randy Dinger, PE, Vice President at ID Consulting Solutions. “An intuitive system was crucial to our successful rollout, as well as the ability to configure and manage the user rights and privileges to ensure this system’s primary purpose: airport security.”
In all, nearly 400 pan/tilt/zoom cameras now monitor the airport’s 1,050-acre property, which encompasses the two interconnected terminal buildings, two public parking garages, aircraft hangars and cargo/shipping facilities. Camera operators are now able to easily review archived video of specific time periods or incidents. Previously, hundreds of staff-hours would have been dedicated to reviewing tape from the legacy analog system to locate specific incidents.

Easy Integration
The system was designed with a dedicated IPTV VLAN with head-end equipment and network switches provisioned throughout the site. All indoor IP cameras are Power over Ethernet (PoE), which made for a very clean simplified installation that saved labor and valuable space. During installation, it was as easy as plugging in the edge device, IP camera or encoder and discovering that device in the system – then it was up and ready to go. More than 140 existing analog cameras from Pelco were successfully integrated into the iSOC platform in less than two days.
“I can go into the DVTel graphical user interface and dial onto the onboard menu of a camera that has been there for ten years and change the settings through the system,” Dinger says. “You aren’t always able to access such intimate aspects of the old equipment.”
With more than 50 client workstations, and users ranging from an around-the-clock command-and-control center to airport management, tenants and contractors, the management of access privileges is simple so that critical camera positions are not accidentally altered. Airport management also is able to create flexible user profiles and control very specific user rights within the DVTel IPTV system. Video is stored on archive servers for 30 days or more, depending on the needs of the particular camera or location, and is password protected and time/date stamped to avoid accidental alteration or sabotage.
Integration with the C-CURE system is also a key element to the deployment. In the event of an alarm situation, the iSOC program automatically brings up that camera view to operators for immediate visual verification of the alarm point. Video from just prior to the alarm and immediately after is automatically queued for viewing, facilitating a faster alarm resolution process.

Improved Efficiency
In addition to serving the primary mission of airport security, the DVTel iSOC is used to improve overall airport operations efficiency.
“The day before Thanksgiving, we were asked by TSA to provide all security video footage for a specific period that day. We were able to locate and copy that video immediately, and that enabled TSA to analyze its security screening configurations and traffic management and make real-time adjustments to improve passenger experience during the very busy holiday travel period,” says Emily Zimmerman, SJC security operations manager.

Installation Challenges
Working around the airport’s hectic daily schedule as well as the project’s strict timetable and budget called for meticulous planning and project management skills to ensure that each phase ran smoothly. TSA restrictions posed challenges in building out the new video system without interrupting other systems during operational hours, so often work began at 11 p.m., when the airport entered into its night commercial curfew period. In one instance, ID Consulting Solutions was able to bring 100 analog cameras online with the new DVTel system in less than eight hours.
Because of the project management challenges presented by the airport’s schedule, Dinger and ID Consulting Solutions also had to be in constant communication with airport operations officials to ensure that the system exactly matched the airport’s needs before the project was completed. The needs of stakeholders from airport operations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to TSA also needed to be taken into consideration.
“Call backs for additional work on the system in this type of environment are very challenging,” Dinger says. “It’s paramount for us to get the project completed correctly the first time.”
ID Consulting’s technical expertise in transportation settings, along with the company’s integration and design/build expertise has also resulted in the successful completion of a similar project at the city of Boise, Idaho’s main airport (BOI). In addition to facing similar constraints due to the airport’s ongoing operations, ID Consulting Solutions had to stay current with rapidly evolving airport security requirements from TSA during BOI’s terminal expansion program. That project included the installation of a massive CCTV system that also integrated with BOI’s access control software.

Continued Expansion
San Jose airport officials are already investigating integrating other building and life safety functions into the iSOC – such as fire alarms and building controls – for overall building management using a single interface. The deployment of video analytics in certain terminal areas is also being explored, as well as in the monitoring of departures and landings during the airport’s overnight curfew hours.
“They are using the iSOC just as we intended – not as an isolated system, but as a flexible solution for improving security and operations, as well as creating an additional value added for the many different system ‘customers’ who are a part of what is needed to make the airport run successfully every day,” says Eli Gorovici, president and CEO of DVTel.

Like San Jose, many transportation venues with significant investments in analog camera systems are looking to upgrade and expand surveillance networks to meet the needs of expanding facilities. With the deployment of a flexible, intuitive video management system that easily accommodated the airport’s legacy Pelco cameras, San Jose was able to expand the current capabilities of their security operations by seamlessly integrating additional functions, such as access control, into the airport’s main operations control center.


California Aviation Alliance: Airport News List E-mail

Sent by – Lorena de Rodriguez on behalf of CAA subscribers. Add your comments to these stories realtime online at
To subscribe or unsubscribe to the Airport News List, send an email, from the email account you wish to receive or discontinue CAA posts on, addressed to and place only the following in the first line of the body of the message: Subscribe airport YourFirstName YourLastName YourJobTitle YourAirport/Company

Manage your CAA subscriptions with the user friendly Mail List Administration database. You’ll find it at:

Contact with problems with your subscription.

Leave a Reply