Airport Perimeter Security Breaches – SightLogix on World News Tonight

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer covered airport perimeter security breaches and included SightLogix thermal cameras in the story. You can see the SightLogix system at about three-quarters of the way through the clip, showing the video from a Thermal SightSensor operating at one of our nation’s largest airports.

An alarming fact indicated in the clip is that more than 1,300 airport perimeter security breaches have been reported at US airports since Sept 11 2001. While most issues around security checkpoints and screening passengers in terminals have been resolved, there remains tremendous vulnerability where protection is most needed: At the airport perimeter. As pointed out, this is like locking all the doors to your house but leaving the windows wide open. It’s harder to get bottled water through the terminal security checkpoint than it is to climb the fence at many airports.

Solving Airport Perimeter Security Breaches with Smart Thermal Video Security

Importantly, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is addressing issues of airport perimeter security breaches head on, first by protecting access points where passengers enter the airport’s security checkpoint, and now by focusing their efforts on the next level of vulnerability, which is the perimeter.

Through the TSA’s test bed in Tennessee, proven security counter measures are now available that can very effectively address airport perimeter security breaches. A recent evaluation by the TSA’s Airport Perimeter Security test program  confirmed the accuracy of the SightLogix SightSensor at Buffalo Airport.  According to the TSA’s final report, the “evaluation team performed over 900 scenarios of which every alarm instance was accurately reported.” The public version of the TSA report is available here.

Achieving security awareness depends on knowing the precise location and nature of an intrusion, and early detection is paramount for mounting a timely response. When it comes to securing airport perimeters, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Of all the automated detection technologies (fence sensors, fiber optics, seismic sensors, radar, etc.) only smart video provides the intrinsic detail to display and record the “what and where” of an alert without need for additional verification systems, allowing for a fast, precise security response.

Smart thermal video systems can detect unauthorized intruders over large perimeters to provide early warning and actionable data as an event unfolds, and before damage can occur. This gives security teams time to respond with “eyes on until hands on” capability that is critically needed at our nation’s airports.


  • Larry Budnick

    Ironically, none of the examples shown in the video would have been prevented by any detection mechanism. In every case shown, the “delay” part of “delay, detect, deter” failed totally. And the report’s comparison to passenger inspections was also flawed since passengers could in fact “bolt” through security just as the truck did in the video. Nice placement for your brand, though!

  • Larry, excellent comments. It’s certainly true that physical barriers or ditches would have gone a long way to create more delay.

    In this particular situation, even without the delay, there would have been a benefit with video detection at the perimeter. According to the information we received, the car was originally detected by radar, and there was time between the vehicle going through the fence and when it was noticed on radar. Had there been more serious consequences, that delay could have been relevant. Further, had this been a person instead of a vehicle entering the perimeter, there would have been substantially more delay in detection, assuming the radar could detect the person at all.

  • Don

    I wouldn’t discount non-video based detection sensors. There are areas around an airport where video based detection is not practical, especially when the airport builds fences in a non-straight fashion (zig-zags, rectangles around power substations, etc.). What is important in those areas is timely cueing of PTZ cameras to slew to the intrusion spot fast enough to aid in verification of the intrusion.

  • Don

    I read the TSA’s report (clean version) of the test results from the Buffalo airport that tested the Sightlogix system. It is interesting how little attention was paid to your nuissance alarm rate. Sightlogix seemed to minimize the data (which I could notsee). I sure would like to get an uncensored copy of that report to see your detection rate and nuissance alarm rate.

  • Don, good points, we would like to see the report also, but the version available to us and the public from the TSA report has been redacted. Fortunately, the full reports are posted on TSA’s Secure Webboard. Every airport is required by regulation to establish an Airport Security Coordinator (ASC) position. The ASC has webboard access provided to them by the TSA. It’s also the location where they go to retrieve Security Directives. We’re told that over 400 domestic airports have access to the full un-redacted report.

    As said, we (at SightLogix) do not have access to the full report nor does anyone else without clearance to use the TSA webboard. We can however provide additional information that is not confidential regarding the testing at Buffalo Airport. SightLogix equipment went through a 9-month, three-season test by the TSA before being funded at Buffalo Airport. And they are now testing additional SightLogix products through the same three-season process. This funding and testing is based upon the favorable results achieved in their test environments. And shortly the TSA will begin the evaluation of a third product, because of the positive results achieved and the applicability of this technology to solving airport perimeter challenges.

    As for the nuisance alerts, the integrator involved in the project has stated on another blog that “99% of the alarms are caused by animals and dependant on the size and quantity may or may not be a concern for the airport.” What he did not mention is that the cameras were configured for detecting animals because that was of interest to the airport.

    We are confident the testing at Buffalo Airport would have yielded a very high probability of detect because we conduct our own testing during qualification and will not leave a site without 100% coverage and margin to spare. Our cameras use GPS-based analytics and are geo-registered to the scene during initial calibration. This allows the camera to determine the precise location and actual size of all objects in its field of view, allowing users to set very accurate video analytic size filters for eliminating animals and other objects from sending alerts. This is a key to accurately detecting targets based upon size, and is the reason that SightLogix systems have the lowest outdoor FAR/NAR available.

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