Airport Security Chief Upgrades Perimeter Protection Using AdvanceGuard

Perimeter surveillance is an essential aspect of any high-risk site’s operations, and Shannon Airport is no different. The airport’s security team have worked closely with Navtech Radar over the years to create a bespoke system that addresses the airport’s specific security challenges. Chief Security Officer John Francis believes that AdvanceGuard should become the dashboard for all air-side security operators, and here he tells Navtech Radar’s Security Segment Leader Simonas Mikuzis why.

As well as the difficulties on the Shannon Airport site, John also explained to Simonas exactly how AdvanceGuard solves many issues that simply aren’t addressed by other systems.

The challenges

With both passenger and military aircraft, plus an engineering works on site, Shannon Airport in Ireland had a particular need for a perimeter surveillance system that could deal with the site’s busy and complex nature – plus protest activities, due to the airport’s use by the US military.

Such a complicated site requires a comprehensive approach to perimeter security. In 2016, after testing various systems that fell short, Shannon Airport got in touch with Navtech to see what its AdvanceGuard system could offer. The product demonstration and discussions with Navtech proved that the system could meet the airport’s specific perimeter surveillance requirements, as well as be expanded over time as needed.

The solution: AdvanceGuard

AdvanceGuard was selected by Shannon Airport because it provides real-time awareness of both threats and legitimate activity, thanks to its intelligent rules-based software and high-quality scanning radars.

The airport’s security team and engineers liaised with Navtech to ensure the system could deal with Shannon Airport’s particular circumstances and a range of weather conditions while providing wide-area surveillance. Uniquely, the system surveils activity within, at and beyond the perimeter, giving advance notice of any incoming potential breaches. This enables the airport’s security team to act against threats before any issues arise.

The system was originally designed with three radars scanning the site, which provided surveillance to around 10 metres beyond the perimeter. However, the system was created with site development and evolution in mind, so this range has been extended, and new modules and capabilities have been integrated over the years to enhance the system’s efficacy.

One example is ‘friend or foe’ – a tagging module for identifying authorised vs. unauthorised activities, personnel and vehicles. This also improves situational awareness. A further addition was ADS-B capability, enabling the airport to identify and track aircraft.

With countryside surrounding the airport, there was previously an issue with wildlife triggering nuisance alarms. Now, this problem has been countered by AdvanceGuard, although a small number of such alarms have been left at the airport’s request to provide ongoing ‘proof of life’ for the system.

In John’s words

John reported: “Securing the perimeter is not just about perimeter protection but also about being able to verify whether your perimeter has been breached – and then dealing with it as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

“One of our biggest problems was nuisance alarms – we want to know that if we do have a breach, we can verify it very quickly. The Navtech system is integrated with our CCTV system, so it gives us the ability to resolve alarms remotely very quickly and very efficiently. The nearest camera will respond to that alarm and will highlight the type of alarm – which means that you’re not spending an awful lot of time rushing around dealing with false alarms.”

Furthermore, he said:

“Beyond the fence, we want to see or have as much advance notice as possible that we may have a potential breach. Occasionally, for example, animals come up beside the perimeter. The Navtech system gives us the ability to see what’s approaching the perimeter, providing an early warning system for our patrols.”

John said the following about the product demo:

“We were sufficiently impressed that it works in all weathers, whether it’s fog, heavy rain or even snow –the product is not affected. That is a significant advantage, especially if you’re dealing with other technologies that wouldn’t be as effective or would be affected by atmospherics.”

“AdvanceGuard has the potential to become a dashboard for the security operation of an airport.”

John praised the system’s effectiveness, saying:

“AdvanceGuard has the potential to become a dashboard for the security operation of an airport because, in respect to its capability, not only does it monitor the perimeter but it also tracks movement should there be a security breach. With ‘friend or foe’, you can monitor the manoeuvring area of an airport and identify very quickly what’s moving around the airport and see it quite visibly. With the ADS-B, you can see the movement of aircraft.

“An additional layer of the system is drone detection and tracking, which is a feature that we will try here in the not-too-distant future. It even has the ability to track flocks of birds. It gives us advance warning of a wide range of hazards that can affect the operation of the airport.”

John argues that AdvanceGuard differs from other available solutions, commenting:

“There are many perimeter protection products, but AdvanceGuard gives you the additional functionality and ability to see what’s going on before a breach, which you don’t get with perimeter-protection-only systems.”

Simonas Mikuzis is the Security Segment Leader at Navtech Radar.

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