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Port Macquarie Airport sets its sights on video surveillance

Port Macquarie Airport sets its sights on video surveillance

Think you've got problems with physical security? Spare a thought for Lane Dechaineux, airport manager at Port Macquarie Airport, whose security responsibilities include all the usual requirements of an airport, plus a few new ones unique to the facility's rural location, like keeping kangaroos, livestock and other animals off the runway.

Dechaineux is responsible for most operational aspects of running Port Macquarie Airport, including security strategy and implementation. Port Macquarie's terminal can handle 200 passengers an hour, operates five Qantas flights to Sydney each day, and two flights a day to Brisbane.

Security was upgraded when the federal government introduced a new act of parliament in the wake of 9/11, called the Aviation Transport Security Act.

The contents of that Act made it quite clear that airport operators were required to have what they called a "transport security program", which is a document that sets out what needs to be done to manage security at the airport.

Port Macquarie Airport conducted a risk assessment which made it clear that introducing video surveillance was crucial to improving the facility's overall security.

After initially investigating older, cheaper closed-circuit television (CCTV) options, but found it was 10 years old and used analog equipment. "Footage was still recorded on videos, so the technology might as well have come off the Ark. I wasn't prepared to go down that path; it wouldn't be long before we had to rip it out and replace it," he said.

"We decided to embrace digital cameras and a number of tenders came in. A digital video network system suited our vision of a new security monitoring centre. We planned to build to a specific room to contain our hardware and software - full digital, with fibre-optic cables and QOL iT helped us get the job done in three weeks."

Dechaineux opted for a fully digital, Internet Protocol-based surveillance system from Canon.

The airport's solution - which involves 15 Canon network video cameras and VK-64 Network Video Recorder software - offers a fine example of how physical security and IT security continue to converge. Previously, Dechaineux spent 22 years at Sydney airport, most recently as standards manager, a role that saw him heavily involved with the safety and operational aspects of the aircraft movement area.

However, he says that implementing the network video monitoring system taught him first-hand how today's security technologies require knowledge of both IT and physical security environments to run effectively.

The system has now been running for about six months and the security room is operational.

"Even though there are only 15 cameras, we can cover a great deal of area," he said. Dechaineux was also seeking a system that was automated.

"If an event occurred at 3:30am, you just click on the bar and up comes a picture for that event," he said.

"We also have a DVD recorder so we can download a particular event for further investigation or to hand over to the police.

"We specified that we wanted to have a 30-day holding period for all 15 cameras before they started recording over previous space, which also meant that we needed a server with enough memory in it to provide that kind of support - over 100 terabytes all up."

While each camera has an IP address, Dechaineux said the airport is pretty remote from town and is linked by copper telephone lines, so broadband does not really work.

As a result the airport is investigating an aerial connection to the Sydney office, but the expense is high and plans may be overtaken by Port Macquarie Council's intention to run a circular fibre-optic cable right around town.

Dechaineux said creating a business case for the project was easy.

"With a low fence and no eyes on the aircraft parked overnight there has always been the chance that people will gain illegal access to an aircraft and damage it or do any number of things. And since each aircraft is worth $10 million to $12 million, the maths is not hard to do," he said.

"The system cost less than $400,000, so the ability to protect an aircraft worth $10 million is pretty significant, not to mention how catastrophic the consequences could be if loss of life was involved.

"I think we've lifted our game immensely in a very economical way."

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