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What are the key areas in an airport that need access control?

What are the key areas in an airport that need access control?
With large flows of people coming and going, security is of paramount importance to airport operators. Keeping unauthorized or dangerous individuals out of restricted areas with a robust access control system is crucial.
With large flows of people coming and going, security is of paramount importance to airport operators. Keeping unauthorized or dangerous individuals out of restricted areas with a robust access control system is crucial.
Passenger and staff safety is a major priority for airports, and operators are turning to advanced technologies, such as video surveillance backed with advanced analyticsIoT-related solutions and advanced networking equipmentto keep their facilities secure. Demand for airport security products is picking up, with Global Market Insights estimating that the market will increase from US$9 billion in 2016 to $16 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent.
Tamer Kamal, Industry
Marketing Manager,

At the heart of airport security is access control. “When we talk about airport security, the main concern related to access control is the challenge of allowing only those with approved access to restricted areas on the property. In busy airports, this can be a real challenge,” said Eric Widlitz, VP of North America Sales at Vanderbilt Industries. “Access control solutions, as well as their integration with other data management platforms, are paramount to ensuring proper levels of access are maintained across the facility.”
Mark Williams, Director of Sales for EMEA at AMAG Technology, said: “The challenge is that most employees do not work for the airport; they work for the airlines, TSA, or a vendor that resides within the airport. Access control systems allow airports to create partitions between vendors and determine who should and should not have access to certain areas.”

Key areas that need to be protected

In an airport there are various critical and sensitive areas that need to be secured. “Airports have several restricted zones where only authorized personnel should be allowed to access, to maintain security standards. Areas include: the tarmac, to avoid hindering take-off or landing procedures; the hangars, to prevent any aircraft tampering; the data centers where sensitive information is stored; and traffic control towers which regulate aircraft flows, and baggage areas,” said Tamer Kamal, Industry Marketing Manager at Genetec. “Boarding/deplaning areas are also sensitive zones which require access control. As they are part of an airport’s effort to enforce border control, segregation between arrival and departure passengers is important.”
John Davies, MD,

“Areas such as inside baggage claim, access to the tarmac, control rooms and towers all must be protected with an access control system,” said Vanderbilt's Widlitz. “People who intend to do maximum harm to these types of facilities will seek to gain access to these areas.”
“There needs to be strict access control around sensitive areas such as the command and control center and also baggage handling areas. With luggage being a key target for terrorists or smugglers, it’s vital that suitable protection is in place,” said John Davies, MD of TDSi. “Another area that needs excellent security is the retail facilities. Modern airports have a huge amount of retail and hospitality space containing valuable goods and stock. With the public able to access many of these areas, it’s important that goods are protected from theft or tampering.”
According to AMAG's Williams, multifactor authentication can add an extra layer of security by requiring employees to both present a badge and enter a PIN. “If an employee loses a badge, a perpetrator cannot open a door without a PIN. Increasing use of advanced biometrics is now being used including facial recognition,” he said.

While access control plays an important part in airport security, integration with other systems — especially video —  is key to producing the results operators need to secure their facilities.

Needless to say, to keep premises safe and secure, airport operators need access control systems, which now feature increasingly advanced capabilities. “Some access control systems include threat level manager modules that can sync up with government threat levels,” said Mark Williams, Director of Sales for EMEA at AMAG Technology. “Airports can align their access control systems and change security levels to match government threat levels. When a threat level changes, the airport can change its security settings.”
Mark Williams, Director,

Access control systems have become more integrative, which is important for airport operators. “If multiple solutions are truly integrated and talking to each other, then a change in one system should make the appropriate changes in other systems in nearly real time,” said Eric Widlitz, VP of North America Sales at Vanderbilt Industries. “For example, if an employee is fired and now becomes a risk, just by checking a box in the human resources system would automatically remove their access rights and privileges throughout the airport without ever accessing the access control system. In the case of a disgruntled employee that potentially can cause harm, this automation becomes critical to the safety and security of a facility.”

What to integrate

An airport access control system should be able to integrate with a variety of systems. “Your access control platform should seamlessly integrate time and attendance, ID badging, fire alarm, video, public address, intercom and intrusion. Access control should also integrate to Active Directory and provide LDAP and role-based access control for the organization,” said Andre Datyelian, Marketing and Sales Specialist at Maxxess Systems. “The combination of physical security and communications is crucial for every airport. By combining ‘systems intelligence’ (security) and ‘human intelligence’ (communications), you dramatically increase users’ situational awareness with unparalleled capabilities to detect and respond to unfolding events in real-time.”
Andre Datyelian, Marketing and Sales
Specialist, Maxxess Systems

Meanwhile, video surveillance plays an important part in airport security, too. While integrating access control with video has become somewhat of an industry cliché, it remains as important and useful as ever for airport operators.
“Airports need video management integrated with their access control system. When an alarm occurs, the video immediately pops up so the officer can see what is happening and respond quickly. Workflow modules outline what steps must be taken to address the alarm, which ensures the proper procedures are followed and quick action taken,” AMAG's Williams said. “Tools that allow officers to manage access control and video functions from one screen also aid in the response and provide a higher level of security. The ability to address alarms and videos from one screen along with a workflow aid provides unified alarm management and streamlines the process around what happens when an alarm comes in as officers receive, review and respond.”
“Access control works very well in combination with CCTV and surveillance systems. For example, it is an excellent way to check who is entering a protected door or to verify who is using credentials at a remote secured access point,” said John Davies, MD of TDSi. “Video surveillance is an important addition to access control systems, as it allows the security team to assess any situation and is perfect for checking the causes of an alarm activation. It is also very useful in tracking suspects, or perhaps a missing child, as they move around the site so the security team on the ground can be directed to their location.”

Needless to say, airport access control plays a key role in keeping staff and passengers secure. However, increasingly, like in other industries, airport operators are using access control systems for purposes beyond security – for example improving operational efficiency as well as maximizing the passenger experience.
Air travelers are increasing by the day. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it expects 7.2 billion passengers to travel in 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travelers in 2016. The increase in the number of travelers has also brought competitive pressures to airports as they try to attract more airlines and increase traffic.
As such, airports find an increasing need to improve security as well as their own operational efficiency and staff management to stay viable in the competition. More and more, they turn to security systems, including access control, to get help in this regard.
“Access control is used to prevent unauthorized personnel or passengers from entering secured areas and restricted zones unnecessarily. Yet when access control is combined with analytics, airport operators can also proactively monitor the boarding or deplaning of specific flights, as well as measure the impact of gate changes and security screening delays to improve airport efficiency and increase commercial revenue from non-flight related sources – that is, duty-free shops, restaurants and gift shops,” said Tamer Kamal, Industry Marketing Manager at Genetec.

Co-working with other systems

Meanwhile, access control co-working with other systems, for example an identity management system, can also help improve efficiency.
“New employees need an access badge, and the onboarding processes is often manual and requires employees to make multiple trips around their airport to get a background check, get fingerprinted and go through training. The onboarding office has to work with several different systems to complete, which is cumbersome and error prone. An identity management system, which is integrated with the access control system, streamlines the process, automates procedures and the employee begins work faster,” said Mark Williams, Director of Sales for EMEA at AMAG Technology.
According to Williams, an identity management system integrated with access control will also help airport ensure compliance. “Employees who work on the tarmac/airside must have a large amount of insurance. If an airline employee’s insurance lapses, but they still have access, the airline would have to pay a big fine. An identity management system allows the airlines and other tenants to automatically track when insurance premiums are due and when background checks need to be performed,” he said. “By automating these processes, airport tenants know who can be where and when, when certifications, insurance premiums or background checks are set to expire, and can renew premiums and conduct a background check at the scheduled time. This keeps the airport in compliance, mitigates risk and saves money.”
More and more, airlines working in airports are also relying on access control to improve efficiency and flight turnaround time.
“Crew work periods are tightly regulated. If the security system can fully integrate the access, emigration, dispatch and time and attendance functions, it could possibly save each crew member one hour per flight cycle. This is obviously a huge efficiency improvement,” said Andre Datyelian, Marketing and Sales Specialist at Maxxess Systems. “Another example is the possible reduction in the turn-around time of a plane from the current 90 min to closer to 60 min. This requires dynamic dispatch and staff management. If for instance, a crewmember started the check-in process but then was not found at the next step, there are two parallel considerations. One is to see what happened to the crewmember, but the other is to dispatch a replacement crew member immediately so that flight operations would not be impacted.”

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