Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
November 4, 2014

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Aviation Security and Suspect Search: a Revolution in Tracking Suspects and Missing Persons

The latest innovation from NICE Systems slashes the time spent trawling through video footage for suspicious or missing persons, the company’s security marketing manager EMEA tells IFSEC Global.

Discussing the company’s involvement in aviation security at airports around the globe, Jamie Wilson also claims that NICE Situator – another of the PSIM specialist’s solutions – can prevent costly shutdowns of airport terminals.

IFSEC Global: What involvement does NICE technology have with airports around the world?

Jamie Wilson: It’s one of our really strong verticals. LAX [Los Angeles Airport] is one of our best. We’ve got other solutions in Denver, Washington and others dotted around the world.

We’ve got a product called NICE Inform and that’s about recording audio and reconstructing video communications, which is of course is very relevant for air-traffic control.

NICE Situator is a bit of a game-changer because it adds benefit on the safety, security and operation side.

I was reading a couple of days ago about an incident at Detroit Airport in 2010. They were trying to track a guy who entered a zone he shouldn’t have gone into and it set off alarms.

After reviewing the video it turned out that he’d actually left the site within 25 minutes, but they had to shut the terminal down for six hours. The cost of shutting an airport terminal down is something like $5,000 per minute.

And, of course, your customer satisfaction scores plummet during every delay. So we’re finding that a lot of our customers come to us primarily for safety and security reasons but they also see a massive benefit on the operational side.

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I know it’s a digression from airports but the Millennium Bank installed the Situator solution, so they could understand what was happening, where it was happening and what to do with the procedural workflow to respond to an incident.

Before they sent for the police they identified 75% of alarms as false alarms, which meant they didn’t have to pay the nominal charge for a false-alarm callout.

So coming back to where NICE fits into airports I think it’s a really strong vertical for us and our customers are seeing some real benefit from our solutions.

IG: So tell us about your latest innovation, Suspect Search…

JW: Our Suspect Search, which we released in September at the ASIS show in the US, is raising some really interesting discussion points because it gives you the ability to find a target more easily.

Whether it’s an undesirable person in your airport terminal or you’re trying to find a missing person,it gives you some real benefits. You don’t have to spend hours and hours trawling through video footage to find somebody and as we all know, when something goes wrong time is often crucial.

Suspect Search gives you the ability to ask your camera network “I’m looking for this person”.

You can bring up an ‘avatar’. You can say “he’s wearing a red shirt, blue jeans, he’s got dark hair in this style,” you can enter a verbal description into the system, which will generate all relevant images.

It takes a lot of the grunt work away from the operator. Normally it takes a team of about six or seven people four days to review 24 hours’ worth of video footage. With Suspect Search you can bring that down to about 25 minutes or so.

So you can see why people are getting excited about this.

If you’ve got a  suspect or a missing child, then the ability to bring down that time is crucial.

When you find the person you’re after it will also plot their movements on a map [see image below] – which again, is really crucial to finding someone quickly.

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So airports are really exciting for us at the moment.  I think our technology ticks all the boxes.

It saves time, it saves money. You can redeploy personnel in other areas.

It means your customer satisfaction is higher or doesn’t fall as steeply because you’re able to get things turned around quicker.

It’s perception as well. Newspaper reports of an airport terminal being closed for four hours due to an incident gets alarm bells ringing. It’s bad PR.

IG: Do airport terminals pose unique challenges compared to other sectors in terms of how you sell your products or how they are deployed?

JW: Not really. An airport terminal is a bit like a small city in a way. You’ve got people wandering around and shops…

But it is a more controlled environment so it’s just a case of tailoring our solution to environmental conditions.

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