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Pelco VMS helps secure Fresno Yosemite International Airport

Pelco VMS helps secure Fresno Yosemite International Airport

The customer

Located in the Central San Joaquin Valley, Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FYIA) is a regional aviation hub in heart of California that serves more than 1.2-million passengers annually. The airport, which was formerly known as Hammer Airfield, was used by the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II as a training base, and had three sub-bases and two gunnery rages. After the facility opened to commercial air travel in 1948, the airport was renamed “Fresno Air Terminal.” The airport received its current moniker in 1996 as part of an effort to reflect its geographic location to three national parks – Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia.    
Today, the airport is home to eight different airlines that provide non-stop service from FYIA, to 10 different domestic and international locations. The airport encompasses more than 2,000 acres, and features two runways and associated taxiways that are capable of accommodating most airline fleets. As with any airport, the use of video surveillance is absolutely critical to ensuring the safety and security of both passengers and staff at FYIA.  

The challenge

One year ago, as part of what is essentially a never-ending process of evaluating and upgrading surveillance technology where it is needed, the airport’s security team, which is lead by City of Fresno Airports Chief of Public Safety Joe Maskovich, reached out to its longtime systems integrator, Angstrom Technology Group, to look at incorporating next-generation surveillance hardware and software into its current infrastructure. Since Angstrom became the airport’s integrator of choice nearly 11 years ago, David Lascano, the firm’s owner, said the company has made a concerted effort to install surveillance technology only from Pelco by Schneider Electric because of the company’s track record of providing reliable, high-quality products. FYIA initially began with approximately 50 analog cameras in the early to mid-2000s, but the system has now grown to more than 200 cameras, the majority of which are IP.     
But just having a standard, run-of-the-mill surveillance solution is simply not good enough for Maskovich or Lascano, which is the reason for implementing a wide variety of new cameras, including high-definition, panoramic models from the Pelco Optera and Evolution lines, and the thermal imaging Sarix line.
“We have been testing and using some phenomenal cameras from Pelco. Some of the cameras that are going up now, when I see the level of resolution, I’m just blown away,” said Maskovich.  
Among some of the other surveillance hardware recently installed in FYIA include 11 high-definition decoders, one gateway server, one core server,  two 48-terabyte and three 36-terabyte video storage servers, and one workstation within the airport’s communications center. However, in addition to these significant hardware upgrades, the airport’s security operators also needed a video management system (VMS) that could simplify some of the most complex day-to-day challenges that the airport faced and provide exceptional situational awareness to help identify and mitigate threats as they are identified. As a result, Maskovich and Lascano decided to become one of the early adopters for Pelco by Schneider Electric’s VideoXpert VMS platform.

The solution

While the security team at FYIA had successfully used the Endura and Digital Sentry video management systems for years, stakeholders wanted to further enhance functionality of the VMS used to provide security professionals with the ability to make fast, effective decisions in the event of a threat. Perhaps the most important capability officials sought was a way to streamline investigations, which can be a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process. For example, if an incident involving a traveler occurs in the airport, surveillance system managers must piece together clips from individual cameras to be able to retrace that individual’s steps through the terminal. However, with VideoXpert, that process has become effortless, allowing operators to export the entire investigation as a single file and share with the proper authorities.
“With VideoXpert, you can tailor the investigation and bring all of the cameras into the timeline simultaneously,” explained Lascano. For example, if a passenger walks into the terminal at 9 a.m., and a security event occurs involving that particular passenger, operators can trim footage to include a specific incident at a specific time as that passenger walks through the terminal. Prior to implementing VideoXpert, FYIA had to reference multiple interfaces to achieve the same result. VideoXpert now provides a single interface for such an investigation. “It is a great move forward,” Lascano said.
Having over 200 cameras – many of which are of the fixed variety – Maskovich added that this capability within VideoXpert also simplifies the entire process for investigators charged with reviewing incidents. The VMS also allows for extensive, customized integrations with a variety of hardware and software applications, including analytics, license plate recognition, point of sale, event/alarm management and much more.
“With this operating system, video clips are correlated and it makes it very easy for anyone to see the whole incident even though it involves separate recorded video from different cameras,” said Maskovich.
VideoXpert has an intuitively designed user interface that provides easy navigation to users, streamlining responses to threats or suspicious behavior in real-time. The platform boasts flexibility and scalability in a reliable, modular architecture, enabling growth along with the growth of an organization.
At its core, VideoXpert maintains a database of cameras and recording devices that can be managed through a convenient Web-based interface where operators can configure and manage the system functionality. VideoXpert’s Op Center supports up to six uniquely configurable monitors, each capable of displaying up to 16 video streams simultaneously – critical for a busy airport environment that sees thousands of passengers coming and going every single day.
From an integration perspective, because VideoXpert was designed to enable customers to reuse components of the Digital Sentry and Endura platforms, installing and setting up the system was made that much easier.
“Having that existing infrastructure in place helped tremendously,” said Lascano. “It was very simple. The migration tool worked perfectly and setup was minimal.”
And while the security staff was a bit apprehensive about having to learn a new VMS, having Endura still running in the background provided them with the ability to become more familiar with VideoXpert while still having the old platform to leverage if needed.
“One of the things that simplified the transition for us is that we had both systems running in parallel. They could use either system and we made both workstations available so they could be logged into both systems simultaneously,” he said.
“We’re deploying cameras all the time and expanding surveillance beyond the terminal to cover our entire perimeter,” concluded Maskovich. “We’re also adding thermal imaging cameras that will help us with intrusion detection. We are constantly examining the solutions we have in place and looking at ways to improve how we conduct investigations, provide operators with a greater amount of situational awareness and streamlining business operations. Our systems are a work in progress, and we’re glad to have a partner in Pelco that will help us be successful.”

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