Security for Public Transportation: High Flying
King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) is Saudi Arabia's third largest airport and occupies an area of 105 square kilometers. Because of its proximity to the cities of Mecca and Medina, the airport is the gateway to Saudi Arabia for a large number of visitors from around the world. In 2010 alone, KAIA serviced more than 17 million passengers.
Over the past several years, the airport has undergone a series of renovations to enhance passenger service and ensure their safety. A recent challenge was to deploy a high-performance, reliable, and easy-to-use high-definition surveillance solution in KAIA's 13 parking lots, terminal lobbies, retail shops, duty free areas, and restaurants for greater security, more efficient management and to protect travelers and airport assets.
Tasked with selecting a new surveillance system for the airport's public parking, lobbies and shops, Al Musbah, a local provider of security solutions, had one goal in mind. "We wanted a high-performance, reliable, and easy-to-use solution to capture irrefutable evidence for quick and successful investigations," said Adel Safadi, manager of CCTV & Video Analytics Systems at Al Musbah. The ability to take quick action when an incident occurs - whether it's an accident or theft - is a critical factor in reducing disturbances and maintaining high customer service levels.
"The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system gives us the tools to review and take appropriate action as quickly and effectively as possible."
A total of 274 Avigilon HD cameras ranging from 1MP to 16MP provide complete coverage of these busy public areas. Eleven 16MP cameras, three 11MP, 29 5MP, 43 2MP, and 31 1MP cameras monitor the 2,000 vehicles that enter and exit the parking lots daily. In the airport's lobbies and all market shop areas, 24 5MP cameras, 44 2MP cameras, and 87 1MP cameras deliver complete coverage. All of these HD cameras are streamed and monitored around the clock in the airport's state-of-the-art control room. Security personnel manage the high-definition surveillance system using the company‘s Control Center Enterprise network video management software (NVMS) with High-Definition Stream Management (HDSM), which was built from the ground up to manage high-definition surveillance video.
Security on a Plate
"We are mandated to provide the most accurate evidence possible to local law enforcement to assist in their investigations," explained Safadi.
The system is also used by the airport director to provide higher efficiencies for KAIA management, as well as airport police who now have another connection to secure passengers and identify suspicious objects or banned vehicles. "The two parties and other agencies are so impressed with the image quality that they have requested direct access to this high-definition surveillance system to expedite their efforts." Since high-definition video delivers far greater detail, security personnel can make rapid and accurate decisions. In the parking lots, security personnel can read license plates and capture facial details any time of the day or night, no matter how congested an area. "We can even capture license plate numbers when the car's headlights are facing the cameras," added Safadi.
Delivering such high quality images, the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system has also proven useful as a management tool in the duty free shops where it is used not only for customer protection and crime prevention, but also as a tool to monitor inventory levels and ensure best practices. "We can keep track of stock levels and monitor customer service to deliver the best retail experience possible."
While very impressed with the image quality, the airport was initially concerned that bandwidth requirements would be too high. Al Musbah wanted to ensure that the system installed could efficiently manage the transmission and display of high-definition video, so the benefit of the additional detail would not be lost. Using the Control Center's HDSM technology and grouping the cameras to form a sub-network that connects to the high bandwidth fiber network, Safadi was able to easily overcome any concerns. The HDSM system only sends the requested pixels, so the workstation does not become overwhelmed with processing unnecessary data. "Security officers are able to navigate through the 274 cameras easily on very little bandwidth," said Safadi. "The use of JPEG2000 compression gave us the ability to view multiple cameras on very little processing power at the viewing station, while still maintaining excellent image quality."
Security staff can view live footage and playback video at the same time using the Avigilon Control Center software, while managing multiple megapixel cameras seamlessly in fast forward and review mode. "We can retrieve superior evidence at a phenomenal speed - the search capabilities are wonderful," noted Safadi. The ability to zoom into points of interest while maintaining a full live view of the overall scene has also proven to be a great advantage. "We have four local and six remote operators, all of whom can zoom into a different scene within the same 16MP camera - something that is impossible with a mechanical PTZ."
Airport security personnel have improved the success of their investigations since installing this high-definition surveillance system. In one case, Safadi was able to easily and quickly retrieve multiple clips from a range of cameras to provide local police with a video of an alleged thief as he entered the airport, committed the theft, and left. "We were able to provide police with the complete story, which quickly led to the suspect's arrest," commented Safadi. "The police were very impressed with the video quality and speed with which they received it."
Al Musbah selected the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system to monitor the parking lots and duty free shops for a number of reasons, but largely for its ability to capture, review, and store high quality footage to facilitate investigations. Convinced by the system's performance, ease-of-use, and reliability, and impressed by the company's support, the airport is hoping to expand the system to cover other key areas. "The system has not only surpassed our performance expectations, it has also proven to be a very cost-effective way to secure our site," concluded Safadi. "By installing this high-definition system, we were able to reduce the number of cameras required from 2,300 analog-based cameras to just 274 Avigilon HD cameras, saving us a lot in installation and labor costs."