Ground transportation at airports: physical security and technological integration

At airports across the country, ground transportation is critical to customer service and involves the coordination of employee parking, public parking, baggage delivery services, charter transportation, courier services, courtesy vehicles, shuttles, taxis and public transport. However, sufficiently integrating the most advanced technologies, from surveillance cameras to access control, automatic vehicle identification (AVI), Wi-Fi and even computer network systems and back-end databases. office, can be challenging for those providing ground transportation services.

So, to better serve its members, organizations like the AGTA (Airport Ground Transportation Association) regularly publish materials and hold meetings to update members on the latest technology solutions, make recommendations, and generally raise awareness of critical issues. facing the industry. The AGTA has nearly 500 members, including ground transportation operators, airport authorities and industry suppliers, who are dedicated to the continuous improvement of ground transportation services.

An important aspect today for the AGTA is the monitoring of parking lots, given the recent increase in the theft of vehicles, catalytic converters and batteries at airport sites.

“Airport parking lots are increasingly being monitored due to the sudden increase in theft,” says Dr. Ray Mundy, the AGTA’s executive director since 1976. tracking (AVI) and curbside surveillance.

Seeking to be referred to an expert who could speak on the subject at a recent association meeting, Mundy discovered BTI Group, a converged technology provider serving the ground transportation, logistics, logistics, and transportation industries. aerospace and health at airports. The company acts as a single source supplier of complex telephony (VoIP), physical security and network systems, down to the installation of cabling and conduits.

To improve security and minimize misrepresentation, BTI Communications Group successfully integrated technology with physical security at a location of a major airport parking company in the United States.

Traditionally, surveillance camera systems like these were installed by security integrators dedicated to a proprietary product line. Now, due to continuous advancements in technology as well as the inherent cybersecurity vulnerabilities of physical security systems, this responsibility is best handled by technology integrators with in-depth knowledge of the products available and how they can be interconnected. . This can add tremendous value to ground transportation operations.

“When successfully integrated, security systems can provide a host of enhanced features such as object classification, people/object counting, loiterer detection, unusual activity detection, and sensor triggers. It can also provide useful metadata such as license plates, entrance tickets, access reader and alarm events,” said Eric Brackett, BTI president and keynote speaker at the meeting with airport managers at Portland and Sacramento airports.

Airport parking security integration

With airport valet parking, potentially false claims for damage to vehicles can become a serious problem if there is not an adequate system to verify the damage.

“In a valet environment, the operator is responsible for damage to vehicles in their possession, so scanning vehicles on entry and exit for damage helps mitigate false claims,” ​​says Tony Dvorzsak, systems engineer and chief engineer responsible for proximity. – nationwide airport parking company.

In Dvorzsak’s view, people rarely drive around and inspect their vehicles daily for damage. “However, if they give their keys to a valet, they’ll be more likely to inspect their vehicle when they return. In this scenario, there could be existing damage that went unnoticed for a while and they first see it after the valet takes possession of the vehicle,” he says.

According to Brandon Baca, BTI’s security systems engineer responsible for overseeing the integration of technology and security for the parking company near the airport, “their main concern was to prevent misrepresentation vehicles parked with valet. Typically, when someone makes a damage claim, the parking operator does not have video to prove that the damage was pre-existing. The operator does not want to deny all the claims and get a bad reputation, so he usually pays them. »

For today’s airport ground transportation facilities, including parking structures, fraudulent claims are unacceptable and increase liability at poorly monitored locations. As a solution, BTI installed security cameras throughout the parking lot in one location, including high definition units on arches at all valet entrances to capture detailed images from the top, front, rear, driver and passenger sides of all incoming vehicles.

“This provides clear photographic documentation of the actual condition of the vehicle upon entry and avoids a ‘he said, she said’ situation,” says Baca.

He notes that the parking lot operator has already confirmed instances where drivers have entered with pre-existing damage to their vehicles. It predicts substantial annual savings in the prevention of misrepresentation.

In addition, to improve the security of self-parking, BTI has installed cameras throughout the parking garage that provide a wide view of the scene in the event of a vehicle collision.

“Although the parking operator is not responsible for self-service vehicles, most companies want blanket coverage to deter suspicious activity. Now, if there is a claim by those who park themselves , they can provide a video to substantiate or deny a claim,” explains Baca.

Baca also participated in a similar airport ground transportation application for a private aviation services company.

To enhance security and deter misrepresentation, BTI has installed surveillance cameras that record private vehicles entering and exiting the valet area for drivers and passengers. The cameras provide the same type of detailed images of the vehicle as those of the parking company’s location near the airport.

To improve the security of the private airport, BTI has also installed cameras to monitor the main building, offices, aircraft hangars and the airport tarmac where aircraft taxi on the runway. Audio recordings from the radio system, command center, and receiving area capture all communications in those areas.

Another area that can benefit from security cameras, according to AGTA’s Mundy, is taxis and Transportation Network Company (TNC)-designated pickup and drop-off points where rides or car rentals are arranged through apps. line.

“In the event of an incident, security cameras can help connect a specific driver with a particular vehicle and license plate,” Mundy says.

Additionally, Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) technology is increasingly being used to automatically track taxis and ride-sharing vehicles, so drivers don’t have to search for ID cards or turn down their windows to interact with a guard when entering or exiting a facility or parking lot. region.

Although technology integration looks like a premium service with a commensurate price, it isn’t necessarily. An integrated approach with best-in-class solutions provides efficiency and scale savings that are often passed on to the customer.

Cheaper solutions may not do the job adequately, may pose a real risk of inherent cyber vulnerabilities, and will always cost more to maintain.

“In our experience, many customers are unsure how products, especially those purchased on the basis of price, can bring embedded vulnerabilities into a network,” said Eric Brackett, president of BTI. “Cameras made in China, for example, have known susceptibilities to hackers. Major flaws have already occurred with what we call pre-hacked technology.

Even technologies that do not carry the risk of being pre-hacked can become vulnerable when users fail to fully implement security features on the connected network. Fortunately, a technology integrator with a computer background can implement advanced cybersecurity processes to block viruses and hackers from destructive practices.

Harness the convergence of technologies

While implementing security systems has been the primary focus of these ground transportation services, technology integrators can also implement solutions for customer service and back-office operations, including systems voice, data and network (IT). Integrating these systems together without a company like BTI with cross-functional experts is an unwieldy proposition, however.

By working with a single technology provider with expertise in physical installation, network security, software integration, and software-as-a-service development, airport ground transportation companies can better manage risk and also be assured that the expected benefits will be delivered as promised within budget. As a whole, the system is locked down, optimally integrated, secure, and proactively managed and monitored.

“Managed service providers today need to be experts in multiple systems and understand how they work together to deliver the highest level of technical quality,” says Brackett. “To do that, they need the intelligence and the smart design to integrate all of these systems, so the customer gets all the benefits they need at a price they can afford and rely on. over the expected life of his investment.”

Mundy agrees: “Companies typically buy and install different technology systems and then try to make them work together. The problem is that no one has really taken the time to think about how systems should be integrated on the front end. So I think Eric Brackett was right that these systems should be integrated to communicate and work together from the start, and in doing so they can deliver much more overall value to ground transportation companies.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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