Categories: Surveillance

Upgrading a major airport to a scalable IP security surveillance solution


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Faced with a number of security challenges and planned future expansion, a major airport decided it was time to implement a scalable security surveillance solution.

Security issues and analogue hangovers

With the existing proprietary solution at the airport locked down to one manufacturer and littered with issues resulting in high maintenance and expansion costs, a new solution was required that would allow the airport to scale its surveillance solution in line with future expansion plans.

Not only was the existing surveillance solution analogue and proprietary, it wasn’t intuitive and was difficult for operators to use. There were several “satellite” security installations scattered in the various terminal buildings that weren’t viewable in the centralised Control Room which meant extra operators were required. The low-resolution analogue cameras made it difficult to identify people during incidents and coupled with the lack of video coverage it gave operators poor situational awareness. Reviewing past events with the existing VMS was difficult as playback wasn’t synchronised and, without bookmarks, it was time-consuming to find important events. The combination of multiple terminal buildings and the Centralised Analogue Architecture resulted in bottlenecks and latency issues as all processing must pass through the centralised server. There was also no redundancy so if there was any failure in the system, the Control Room would no longer have the capability to view live or recorded video. Additionally, as the system was locked down to one manufacturer and the whole system had to be hardwired to the centralised server, there were very expensive expansion costs.

Addressing security and scalability concerns

The required solution had multiple requirements to ensure that the existing issues were resolved and that the solution could scale with the planned expansion.

With expansion planned to facilitate growing passenger numbers, an open IP based solution was specified to replace the existing analogue solution to improve situational awareness, provide scalability and integrate with a number of other systems operating in the airport.

The architecture needed to limit bottlenecks, reduce latency issues, provide redundancy advantages and be scalable to allow for multiple new terminal buildings to be connected with ease.

New HD cameras were specified to improve image quality and coverage with a Video Wall required in order to view and manage the increase in video streams in the centralised Control Room. New large capacity NVR’s were also specified to cope with the increase in camera streams and an extra NVR for redundancy and failover.

Distributed Architecture helped exceed requirements

A solution with Distributed Architecture was chosen as it solved multiple issues with the existing solution and facilitated future expansion without the need for a centralised server.

Distributed Architecture allows data to be kept close to where it is produced or needed. When cameras, surveillance workstations, NVRs, alarm servers, integration gateways all participate in a Distributed Architecture, data bottlenecks are minimised as all processing doesn’t need to pass through a centralised server. Distributed Architecture provides a truly unlimited and scalable solution that can easily accommodate the largest airports in the world.

Distributed Architecture minimised the existing bottlenecks, reduced latency and provided higher availability and faster access to data. It also allowed all “satellite” security installations to be viewed in the centralised Control Room enhancing situational awareness. New HD cameras were installed and due to the scalability of Distributed Architecture, future cameras can easily be connected when needed. Furthermore, the scalability of Distributed Architecture enabled the airport to build new terminal buildings and connect with ease to the security solution when ready.

Lowering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Distributed Architecture enables planned future expansion as it can support thousands of cameras, workstations and NVR’s dramatically reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The scalability of Distributed Architecture allows the airport to continue with planned expansion and add a single camera/NVR or a whole new terminal when needed.

Learn more about network scalability and how to implement a scalable architecture by signing up to CPD certified course “Essentials for Modern Network Scalability” here

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