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Securing the airport terminal

Securing the airport terminal

Globally, fence mounted vibration sensor based Perimeter Intrusion Detection System has been proven as ideal solution for effective perimeter security at airports.

The complex security environment has become a matter of concern for aviation industry in India. The Indian sub-continent is witnessing a traumatic phase and is reeling under disturbances of major proportions. There is a growing concern that it might impact Indian and International businesses.

Realising the changing landscape and the need, the perception of the aviation sector with regard to security has also been changing. There is a growing recognition that in this ever changing threat environment, it is imperative for airport operators to constantly remain alert in order to fight new security threats. Challenges may vary from fire to flu but their long term impact is enormous. The ability of organisations to weather disasters, decides their sustainability and future. Furthermore, business leaders are increasingly realising that a strategy and a holistic approach towards security will have much larger impact on the organisation, the society and the country.

While the perception has been changing and aviation sector is increasingly looking for solutions, there are challenges as well. There are challenges in terms of resources, expertise and most important the approach. The big question for airport operators arises on the level of investments and preparedness since there is no certainty of a secure environment.

In a benign environment where you have a core operation or assets that requires securing; the perimeter fence or wall is the first (outer) layer in a series of multi layered system. This concept of securing is known as ‘defence in depth’. Effective perimeter security should be designed to deter, detect and delay an intruder thus giving a reaction time to deploy and detain the intruder before he gains access to the core operational area or assets.

When it comes to perimeter security it has been observed that airport operators solely rely on 8-feet boundary wall with 1-feet and 6-inch Y shape overhang mandated by BCAS; which is invariably inconsistent at all airports. Vast operational area of the airport, the remoteness of the perimeter in many places and the condition of the existing perimeter wall are three major factors to be considered when assessing security of the perimeter at any airport. The wall is a principal physical barrier between landside and the operational airside area and is largely unsupervised. Other than controls at perimeter gates, terminals access controls and access controls into maintenance areas, the wall is the only physical barrier preventing access to the airfield and aircraft. Armed guards of the CISF are deployed at various points around the wall. There are CISF mobile vehicle patrols deployed on the airfield with a worst case response time of 15 minutes to the furthest point of the airfield in the event of an incident. The CISF personnel are armed with high velocity weapons and are equipped with radio sets to communicate with each other and their control room.

Principle vulnerabilities
The current perimeter wall that constitutes the only defensive line of the airports is weak, porous, undermined in many places and can be easily breached by any intruder. CISF guards are positioned around the perimeter at various points mainly near gates and watch towers which are not tactically located. They cannot possibly observe entire perimeter and seldom venture very far from their static position. They have no technical aids such as binoculars and night vision goggles to observe the perimeter areas beyond their static positions.

Currently none of the airports in India have effective Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, CCTV cameras or other technical aids to assist in supervision/monitoring of the perimeter or to offer a deterrent to a criminal intruder. The light system along the perimeter roads is very inefficient and illuminates only a small area of 2 to 3 metres around the base of the light unit. The area of the perimeter wall does not benefit from the perimeter road lighting and this lighting offers no deterrence at all to an intruder.

Fence Mounted Vibration Sensor based Perimeter Intrusion Detection System:
The SVS 1000 Perimeter Intrusion Detection System arrives to the site fully assembled with the sensors moulded onto the cable; this will ensure a hermetically sealed product that will withstand the harsh weather conditions. The processing and the alarm determination algorithm are unique and different from the ones common to other fence mounted systems. While most of the other systems, by nature of their principle of operation, produce signal on a whole zone basis and therefore only rely on the level of this signal. The Sabra Fence however provides signals based on an individual sensor and therefore is analysing the environment, an alarm is determined based on exceptions to the normal constant “noise” and therefore improving the false alarm rate of the system. This is especially important in an airport environment where the fence is exposed to significant vibrations and acoustic noise caused by airplane movements and engine “jet blasts”. The vibration sensor has been tested by USA and Israeli government agencies for a long period and found suitable for use at high security sites. Israeli Army is replacing taut wire system with vibration sensor system for its border surveillance. It has been installed all over the world in high security sites such as prisons, embassies, industrial and utility sites and alike. Slingshot Security Solutions Pvt Ltd has been licensed to assemble vibration sensor in India and sell under our own brand name SVS 1000. The system has been extensively trial evaluated at Cochin International Airport and had been strongly recommended to be used for PIDS at Indian airports, thus making it suitable for long perimeter. SVS 1000 has been installed at Mumbai International Airport and has been working satisfactorily since last three years provides a strong credential by virtue of being the only working PIDS at an Indian airport.

Short description of system components and performance
• The system requires a field processor (SVSHub) every 1,500 metres in oppose to other fence mounted systems that require a dual zone processor every 200-400 metres.
• For sites up to about 1.5 km the SVSFence does not require a processor at all and can be plugged in directly into the control hub.
• Control hubs can be networked and communicate with a main server via a standard Ethernet network.
• The hubs and sever can be remotely setup diagnosed and upgraded via wired or wireless Internet.
• The SVSFence provide alarm resolution of 3 metres rather than up to 100 metres in other systems, this enables to lower the number of fixed CCTV cameras and use more PTZ cameras.
• The same sensors can act as magnetic sensors, guard patrol attendance notification sensors and temperature sensors. This eliminates the need for special magnetic gate and tamper switches and their interface.
• There is no orientation requirement for the sensor unlike other systems where the sensor has to be levelled and adjusted.
• The sensor can be installed on multiple types of surface including concrete and steel walls.
• The installation of the system is as easy as connecting it to the fence every 3 metres.

Main features of SVS 1000
• The sensors are over-moulded on a standard outdoor rated cable which is used to provide operating power as well as communication with the control centre.
• The sensors exchange information with the control unit (SVS Hub) via RS-485 communication line.
• Each sensor includes a micro-processor doing the local calculations to filter solid or false alarm events.
• Each sensor has a unique address so the information being sent back to the command centre knows to pinpoint the actual alarm location.
• Each sensor can be adjusted from the control centre to fine tune the sensitivity and functionality.

It is further recommended that to capitalise on the full potential of these two detection system, Fence Mounted Vibration Detection system should be integrated with BCAS specified CCTV system and as an additional measure for all weather detection radar system should be integrated with thermal imager cameras.

The challenges of assessing security risk stems from uncertainties inherent in specifying each of the factors that determine risk; i.e. threat, vulnerability, and consequences. The most uncertain factor surrounding terrorism risk relates to threat when, where and how will terrorists choose to attack next. It is difficult to anticipate changes in terrorists’ intentions and capabilities, yet the intelligence community directs significant effort to providing answers to exactly these types of questions. The challenge this poses for risk analysis is how to link efforts of intelligence analysis with efforts to estimate and manage terrorism risks.

The most ideal and cost effective method of perimeter security at Indian airports will be combination of radar system and vibration detection sensor combined with CCTV cameras and thermal imager cameras.

Authored by__
Capt (Retd) Akshay Kumar
Managing Director
Slingshot Security Solutions Pvt Ltd


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