Wireless Eyes Watching Airport Security

By Jacqueline Emigh  |  Posted 2004-11-04

Wireless Eyes Watching Airport Security

With fears of terrorism still in the air, vendors at this weeks International Security Conference touted new surveillance technologies being used in transportation and logistics to pinpoint suspicious packages, peer inside transport vehicles and positively identify people even through darkness and fog.

SerVisions new IVG-400 PDA-enabled wireless surveillance product is already being piloted in Mexico by both DHL and PepsiCo, said Oren Yehezkely, vice president for product implementation at the company.

Another test is slated to begin in about three weeks on bus lines in London, according to Gideon Tahan, president and CE0 of SerVision.

The new in-vehicle video gateway represents a new twist on SerVisions existing SVG-400 stationery gateway, which runs digital video—compressed at ratios of more than 50:1—over either wired links or narrowband cellular connections.

In a demo of the new IVG-400, SerVision officials showed a live, streaming video feed, which was beamed over a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellular connection from a video camera stationed outside a Los Angeles office building to a handheld PDA on the show floor in Manhattan. Alternatively, video can be streamed to PCs in control rooms.

Unlike the SVG-400, the IVG-400 is portable. Also, the unit been ruggedized for in-vehicle use, and it supports PDAs. The gateway typically will be deployed with cameras mounted inside vehicles, according to Tahan. Each IVG-400 supports as many as four cameras, as opposed to 16 cameras for the SVG-400.

SerVersions video compression combines MPEG video compression with the companys own proprietary compression scheme. Other capabilities of the IVG-400 include DVR (digital video recording), a removable hard disk, a panic button and remote PTZ camera control from either PDAs or PCs.

Click here to read about airports efforts to get on the security fast track.

Now on the drawing boards at SerVision is a third video gateway product, which will provide home-based surveillance. "Then, youll be able to see whats happening at your house from anywhere," Tahan said.

Meanwhile, three large airports–two in Europe and one in Australia—are deploying new software from iOmniscient that aims to add software-based smarts to video surveillance.

At many transportation facilities today, surveillance systems are still monitored by human beings, who may be asked to keep an eye on dozens of video displays simultaneously, said Dr. Rustom A. Kanga, CEO of iOmniscient.

Furthermore, airports and railroad stations often get crowded, making it even easier for a culprit to set down a suspicious package–containing a bomb, perhaps–without being detected, he said.

Next Page: Noting "exceptions" to ordinary behavior.

Noting Exceptions

iOmniscients rules-based, object-enabled software is designed to overcome this problem by noticing "exceptions"–or violations of ordinary behavior–among objects appearing on the screen, and then alerting human security personnel to check into the situation more. The software is designed to work with any sort of CCTV camera.

The user-programmable product is also good at detecting objects in low-contrast conditions, such as a black suitcase against a dark background, according to Kanga.

The Windows-based software also can be used by distribution centers, retail stores and other facilities worried about product shrinkage, or loss, Kanga said.

For instance, a major art gallery in Canada has deployed the system to help guard against theft of valuable artwork.

Continental Airlines is using software to assess vulnerabilities. Click here to read more.

Extreme CCTV, on the other hand, showed products meant to overcome a different sort of surveillance issue: the accurate identification of human beings detected in parking lots, fields and other areas at the peripheries of airport and seaport facilities at times when visibility is murky.

Extreme CCTV makes special IR (infrared) lamps designed to work with CCTV cameras, said J.M. Gin, the companys CEO and president.

For better accuracy in identifying humans and other objects, and to avoid white-out, the companys Uniflood lamps use a technology called Cosec. Cosec is geared toward achieving even illumination, so that radiated energy returned to the camera is the same from wherever the subject is situated in the scene.

The lamps can be set up to illuminate local areas, 360-degree-wide areas or specific remote targets such as gateways, doorways or pathways where users perceive high-risk conditions, he said.

Extreme CCTVs lamps come in varying wavelengths, ranging from about 730mm to 950mm. The 950mm lamps, in which visible red glow is greatly reduced for covert operations, must be used with highly sensitive nighttime cameras.

In the days immediately following 9/11, the lamps were set up at U.S. airbases in Hawaii, Alaska and Guam, according to the CEO.

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