With Homeland Security and Public Safety organizations exploring new ways to use big data and data analytics, data storage is no longer just a place to save information; it’s an enabler—a platform that can help government and law enforcement officials achieve better airport and border security.
More than a decade since the tragic events of 9/11, security remains a top concern for the airline sector. Terrorists still see passenger planes and airports as attractive targets.
“Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instill fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life,” said John Kelly, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, during remarks at the Council for New American Security Conference in June. “And it works—which is why they still see aviation as the crown jewel target in their world.”1
The threat doesn’t appear to be lessening. In the same speech, Secretary Kelly said, “The threat has not diminished. In fact, I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector—from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground, as we saw in Brussels and Istanbul.”
Airports are gathering places for large, diverse crowds. Over 738 million passengers and 24 million airport employees were screened at U.S. airports in 2016, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).2 Airports are popular points of entry for many countries. Both domestic and international travelers intersect in large volumes. Screening procedures are under constant review for effectiveness. In fact, TSA recently tightened security measures in light of changing threats.3
Airport security wages an ongoing battle to stay ahead of new threats. Passenger and visitor safety is paramount; therefore, security officials must ensure video surveillance systems and security procedures are in place to protect people, aircraft, terminals, parking facilities, fuel facilities, airline buildings, and power supply facilities.4
Border security can be a politically charged topic, and opinions vary on the best way to improve security. Nevertheless, border crossings, like airports, represent points of entry that can be exploited by adversaries. To protect against unlawful entry by watch-list suspects or other terror-related activity, Homeland Security and Border Patrol agents must monitor and secure these locations to the best of their ability.
Video Surveillance, Analytics, and Biometrics
To provide better protection at airports and border crossings, security experts are expanding video surveillance capabilities and exploring new uses for biometrics and data analytics. These new tools create a flood of data to be retained for unprecedented spans of time, and the data must be available on-demand, often across geographically separate locations in order to support the full capabilities of advanced analytical applications. These new tools are capable of identifying patterns that only reveal themselves over periods of time, or become smarter with more data available to analyze.
On our borders, video surveillance technology is a key component of plans to strengthen security. Towers mounted with high-res cameras are placed strategically along the borders of the United States. These cameras capture events at border areas and stream footage back to a central control room, enabling agents to monitor activity remotely.5 According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, adding more towers to expand remote video surveillance is needed to provide better protection in remote areas along the borders. CBP is exploring the project and issued a Request for Information earlier this year listing specifications that would effectively double the number of towers in place today.6
Video surveillance has been an integral part of airport security systems for years. Airports are busy places with a large area to monitor. Cameras are placed throughout the facilities to help security personnel view crowded concourses, perimeter gates and fencing, security checkpoints, baggage handling, hallways, seating areas, entrances, and exits. Cameras extend a security presence without deploying more guards, thereby achieving a force multiplying effect, and provide recorded evidence for use during an investigation, if needed.
Surveillance cameras have changed. More multi-sensor, digital units are installed today, delivering sharper image quality. And with more sensors, more data is captured at the camera source, which enables more analytics and enhances overall surveillance capabilities.
One common analytic capability used by security applications is Virtual Tripwire protection. Paired with high-end cameras, this analytic tool notifies security personnel if someone crosses into a secured area and is very effective for perimeter security.
Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is another analytic capability in use today. ANPR systems analyze number plate information quickly, and notify security personnel of suspicious or stolen vehicles. It’s also an effective tool for law enforcement investigations.
Biometrics is a burgeoning area for security. Fingerprints have been used by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies as a method of identification for over 100 years. States began digitizing fingerprints in the 1980s and sharing the data with other agencies. Today the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which operates using data submitted by local, state, tribal, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, contains over 100 million fingerprints and more than 50 million facial images.7
Other biometric modalities that are in use or being tested include iris and retina scans, palm prints, odor, gait analysis, eye movement, and signature recognition.
Some biometrics applications not only help improve security, but also streamline the security process for travelers. Facial recognition scanners, such as those being tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport8, can be used to confirm a traveler’s identity, thereby improving screening and reducing security lines. Biometric authorization, such as fingerprint and iris scanning, can help travelers avoid long security lines by using a kiosk, such as those available at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.9
Bringing It All Together
Technology is having a big impact on security. High-end cameras combined with big data and analytics are helping security personnel provide better protection at airports and border crossings. New applications will emerge in the years to come.
Advancing security in the future depends on integration—the bringing together of all data and sub-systems, from video surveillance to operations to access control to IT infrastructure, into a streamlined, effective system.
The common thread for these new technologies is data storage. Advanced data storage systems serve as the foundation of modern security infrastructures in a way few could have imagined when video cameras first became an accepted element of our landscape. No longer simply a tool for observation, these systems have evolved into sophisticated networks for intelligence gathering. Data will continue to grow, as technology advances and new use cases for data analytics emerge. That data will need to be stored. And it will need to be easily accessible by a variety of diverse systems. Data storage will need to scale to accommodate this growth without creating functional, architectural, or budgetary limitations. And if it does, data storage can become a powerful enabler and a platform for better security.
About The Author
Intelligence, Surveillance & Security Solutions, Quantum Corporation
A seasoned global marketing, product management, and business development executive, Wayne has over 25 years senior management experience in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 firms and drives Quantum’s strategy in the intelligence and security market. He is an expert on best storage practices for video surveillance, and is helping to drive industry transformation by educating the market on the role storage can play as the foundation of a security infrastructure. Wayne has been published in numerous industry publications and is a regular speaker at industry events. He also sits on the SIA Government Affairs Committee Working Group on Body-Worn Video Technology, which is charged with recommending best practices to the US Federal government.
1 “Remarks for the Council for New American Security Conference.” DHS.gov. Department of Homeland Security website, June 28, 2017. Viewed August 11, 2017. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/28/remarks-council-new-american-security-conference
2 “TSA Year in Review: Record amount of Firearms Discovered in 2016.” TSA.gov. Transportation Security Administration website, January 12, 2017. Viewed August 11, 2017. https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2017/01/12/tsa-year-review-record-amount-firearms-discovered-2016
3 “TSA raising aviation security baseline with stronger domestic security measures.” TSA.gov. Transportation Security Administration website, July 26, 2017. Viewed August 8, 2017. https://www.tsa.gov/news/releases/2017/07/26/tsa-raising-aviation-security-baseline-stronger-domestic-security-measures
4 Philippou, Oliver. Airport Video Surveillance and Security Report 2016, IHS Technology, November 2016.
5 “Remote Video Surveillance System.” DHS.gov. Department of Homeland Security website, [n.d.]. Viewed July 31, 2017. https://www.dhs.gov/keywords/remote-video-surveillance-system
6 “Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) Upgrade for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” FBO.gov. U.S. General Services Administration Federal Business Opportunities website, January 18, 2017. Viewed August 8, 2017. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=00fbabf1b4052432e3c3ae7cf4336cad&tab=core&_cview=0
7 CJIS Annual Report 2016. U.S. Department of Justice; Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306.
8 Marcus, Lilit. “Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport Is Testing Facial Recognition at Boarding Gates.” Article on cntraveler.com website, February 9, 2017. Viewed August 6, 2017. http://www.cntraveler.com/story/amsterdams-schipol-airport-is-testing-facial-recognition-at-boarding-gates
9 Saunders, Jessica. “Atlanta airport gets biometric security screening option today.” Atlanta Business Chronicle website, February 1, 2017. Viewed August 6, 2017. https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2017/02/01/atlanta-airport-gets-biometric-security-screening.html