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Airports to get 'virtual tripwire' CCTV

London Telegraph | July 5, 2007
David Millward

Sophisticated closed circuit television camera systems is set to be introduced at a number of British airports, it emerged last night.

Negotiations are understood to have started for installation of technology known as Video Analytics - the use of computers to monitor CCTV images.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that a number of airports - both major and smaller regional ones - have been in talks with companies involved in developing the systems.

Manufacturers claim that these systems could either have headed off the attack on Glasgow airport or made it possible to react almost instantly.

While normal CCTV relies on human beings to monitor and deal with potential attacks, Video Analytics can do this automatically.

Already in place at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, it relies on a "virtual tripwire" to trigger the reaction of the emergency services. In this case it would be an unauthorized vehicle appearing on a runway.

The systems are also capable of spotting an unattended bag in a terminal or in some cases people acting suspiciously - for example, by running against the general flow of passengers.

A computer can be trained to watch out for certain events picked up by digital CCTV cameras. An isolated bag which does not move for a pre-set period of time would be highlighted on the screen.

Although a number of companies are involved in developing the systems, the basic principle underlying the technology is the same.

Luton Airport already has a digital closed circuit television system installed, which would make it easier to bolt on the smart software necessary to make a Video Analytics system work.

The rail industry is also set to test the technology at Clapham Junction, one of the busiest intersections in Britain.

In another development, talks have started which could see the current airport forecourt restrictions being eased. Much will depend on assurances that all the plotters involved in the latest planned terrorist outrages have been identified.

But other security measures will have to be put in place before what is known in the industry as "kiss and fly" is allowed to take place.

These include placing barriers - such as bollards - in front of terminals to make it physically impossible to drive a car bomb into the building.

BAA, which runs seven of the country's main airports, is also reconfiguring its forecourts to widen the distance between any drop off point and the terminal.

Meanwhile a report claimed that passengers are still getting confused by the security arrangements which were introduced last August.

The biggest difficulties are being caused by the rules restricting the amount of liquids and gels which can be taken on board, the consumer magazine, Which, said.

As a result vast amounts are being confiscated at airports across the country, with passengers still trying to take containers larger than the 100 ml limit onto aircraft.

At Birmingham just under a tonne of liquids are seized at security checkpoints every day - enough to fill 18 baths. At Manchester twice as much is being confiscated.

 

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