TycoIS secures exit at Maine airport

‘Technology doesn’t get tired or distracted’
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine—Passengers deplaning at the Portland International Jetport here now must make their way through a special security exit portal, one of only two of its kind in the country. 

The L-shaped, two-lane exit from the secure concourse has been in use for about three weeks. Using real-time video analytics sent to the airport’s monitoring center, it detects “reverse flow” of people and objects from the non-secure areas of the airport to the secured area, said Paul Bradbury, airport director.

The Exit Lane Breach Control Containment System from CheckVideo, installed by TycoIS, alerts authorities if people try to enter the secure concourse through the exit. It also sounds an alert if something is tossed from the unsecure area into the exit portal. Conceivably, an unscreened person could pass a bomb or a gun to someone exiting, who could then reverse direction back into the safety zone, officials said. Not so with the new system, they said.

At a Sept. 17 press conference, an airport official rolled a golf ball through an exit door. Alarms immediately sounded and the exit doors were automatically closed and locked. 

“This is the wave of the future, the future for all airports. It clearly surpasses any kind of manned system,” Bradbury said. 

Previously, a guard was stationed at exit points. “But technology never gets tired or distracted,” he said.

Because of sequestration, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now expects airports to upgrade security at their own expense. The Portland system cost $415,000, which was included in its recent terminal expansion budget, Bradbury said. The cost per year of employing a guard to sit at the exit is about $106,000, so the airport will recoup the cost in about four years, he said. 

“This is a new step for us. It will allow us to be more efficient with our security personnel. They can be put to better use,” he said. 

Signs before and in the exit portal warn that there is “No re-entry beyond this point” and “Do not stop. Keep moving.”

If someone is exiting and realizes they’ve left their jacket or iPad behind and turns around to go back, that will trigger alarms and the sealing of doors. “I’d rather see those ‘false alarms’ that show the system is working,” said Cuyler Feagles, assistant facilities manager at the Portland airport.

Philadelphia International Airport has the same system in place. The Seattle/Tacoma airport is using a similar system. 

Many other airports are interested in the system as well, said Frank Pervola, Tyco’s business development manager for transportation.