There is much talk of “integrated security,” but when it comes to protecting an airport, this is undoubtedly the most effective approach to take. It is about recognizing all the threats throughout the process rather than looking at them simply in isolation, from securing the perimeter through to preventing thefts from the car parks, efficient and transparent passenger processing, luggage and cargo screening procedures and on to general airport operation and air transport management. This integrated approach can also be adopted with other building management elements, such as fire protection, energy management and automation systems for the control of heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), and in the protection of power supplies and low voltage distribution.
One of the major problems identified by airports which require security measures employed over a large area is how to manage all the different inputs and alerts which may occur, often simultaneously, in the event of an incident. For example simple questions must be answered, such as who is in charge? The police? Security staff? Or fire officers? Which measures should be adopted in the case of an incident?
If an integrated approach is adopted, such as “command and control” systems, this provides a centralized overview and control for the protection not only of an airport's passengers and employees but also of its assets. Such a command and control system integrates a wide range of disciplines such as fire, intrusion, access control, video surveillance, public announcement systems, flight information displays, building automation systems and other relevant security equipment, providing one central point through which all the various alerts can be monitored. Command and control systems also guide the personnel who need to respond to an incident as to what actions to take, a vital factor in what is invariably a stressful situation.
Megatrends such as globalization and urbanization, along with growing and aging populations, continue to be an impact worldwide. By 2025 nearly two-thirds of the world's population will live in, or very close to, the major conurbations. As airports provide a global transportation network between cities, they are important hubs and have considerable regional, economic significance, giving the cities they serve great commercial advantages over those that do not. This growing urbanization means that airports will undoubtedly continue to grow in number and that existing airports will continue to grow in size in order to satisfy the increasing demand for mobility. The systems employed to protect them therefore need to accommodate such growth, with a requirement for a smooth migration path and upgrading strategies which allow systems to expand easily, adding new functionality without having to completely replace entire systems.
One of the greatest challenges today for airport operators is the day-to-day management of disparate systems, third-party equipment and a host of different resources throughout the lifecycle of the facility. The phased approach to an airport's development often leads to a mix of old and new technologies. For this reason, Siemens are developing and rolling out a portfolio of tested and proven applications to integrate disciplines at an airport.
In recognizing this need for growth and development in the world's airports, it is important to appreciate the increased focus on the environmental consequences. In all Siemens products, safety features are combined with algorithms to improve comfort and (wherever possible) to reduce fuel consumption. This means that the system protects not only the airport buildings but also contributes directly to the reduction in carbon emissions.
An integrated approach to security and safety helps to ensure that an airport is able to continue to supply that all important gateway to the world as globalization and urbanization increases the demands on critical infrastructure.