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How Leveraging AI Helps Optimize Safety
and Security for Airports

How Leveraging AI Helps Optimize Safety and Security for Airports

Security has always been the key issue for airports. They face numerous threats ranging from minor incidents to severe life-threatening security attacks on a regular basis. This requires the implementation of complex security systems to mitigate all risks. In recent years security requirements have intensified considerably forcing airports to be more vigilant and take advanced security measures. Besides, passengers, visitors, and airport staff now expect the highest levels of convenience and user-friendliness, which presents another challenge for airlines. Apart from securing aviation sites, they strive to increase their efficiency and make the whole operational process smooth and seamless. It can only be possible if next-gen technologies are applied to assist airports in augmenting their physical security infrastructure along with driving actionable intelligence.

In the last few years, AI-based systems have been increasingly adopted across the globe to help airport authorities tackle safety concerns. According to Allied Market Research, the global market for aerospace artificial intelligence was valued at $373.6 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $5,826 million in 2028, registering a CAGR of 43.4%. That is attributed to the numerous benefits that AI-powered solutions bring to airports. In this article, we will explore how aviation sites can leverage AI technology to optimize their safety and security and improve operational efficiency.

Optimize situational awareness

A key responsibility for airport security is ensuring the safety of passengers and staff within the airport environment. That is why a reliable video surveillance system is critical. Monitoring airports is a great challenge as they are complex environments with thousands of passengers and baggage passing through terminals every day. The area to monitor is also huge and includes multiple terminals, a parking area, a vast perimeter, and many exit and entrance points. So, to keep an eye on the entire facility, operators have to look at hundreds of cameras around the clock. Human capabilities don’t allow doing that without distraction and errors. Operators lose attention, get overloaded, and show poor operational effectiveness, which results in missing critical events and the inability to handle every situation timely.

AI technology helps to address these issues and optimize video monitoring by providing real-time information and alerting to threats as soon as they arise. It helps operators to rapidly focus on situations needing immediate attention and faster response times. Ultimately, by seamlessly integrating with existing cameras, AI-powered solutions like Scylla help to transform passive cameras into proactive security systems for real-time recognition of security threats.

Perimeter protection

Due to their size, multiple ingress points, and large crowds of people, airports are open to attacks. Crowds in the airport terminal, as well as mission-critical facilities like control towers, are at risk of being targeted by terrorists.

Prevention of unauthorized access as well as the real-time detection of intruders are certainly the most pressing security challenges for airport operators. When it comes to detecting people with weapons in crowds, or signs of terrorist activity, humans’ capabilities are rather limited. Therefore, important events can be overlooked. AI technologies can help meet those challenges and support humans in recognizing threats early. AI algorithms monitor the entire airport area through multiple cameras 24/7, identifying and tracking suspicious objects or persons. An immediate alert of access violations and odd behavior is sent to the staff. Thus, they are always aware of intrusions and other threats across the site and deal with the situation immediately.

It also helps manage airport parking lots by linking license plate information with time-stamped ticketing data and sending video alerts of any potential issues.

Control unauthorized entries

Access control is an integral part of airport security. It is important to manage access to sensitive areas, such as the tarmac, air traffic control towers or hangars. At the same time, there is the need to ensure that the company employees, service providers, and multiple commercial vendors have access to certain areas of the airport at certain times and that passenger flow goes smoothly and seamlessly. That is the job for intelligent access control systems designed to distinguish between legitimate and unauthorized visitors. Unlike swipe cards, which can be lost, stolen or borrowed, biometric access control, particularly face recognition, looks far more secure. If an unauthorized entry is detected, the system provides operators with real-time alerts.

Airports security

Automated FOD detection

Foreign object debris (FOD) on airport runways is a well-known problem in the aviation industry. Tire parts, asphalt chunks, screws, and generally any object that appears on the runway may become extremely hazardous for an aircraft while it is taking off and landing. Foreign object debris on the airfield results in technical issues, workplace injuries, flight delays, and financial losses for the company. Damage caused by FOD amounts to nearly $13 billion annually for the aviation industry worldwide. Runways are manually inspected only a few times a day thus increasing the risk of FOD damage for aircraft. Intelligent video solutions like Scylla can help address this issue by providing constant automatic monitoring of runways in all weather conditions and detecting multiple FODs on an airfield. This can significantly increase the safety and efficiency of surface management operations, prevent runway closures and decrease runway downtime.

Improve operational efficiency

Specific areas at airports are prone to be crowded or downright congested. This is bad for the airport as every minute wasted in the queue adversely affects the travel experience and causes financial losses for airlines. Flights are delayed and rebooking costs have to be covered by airlines. Airports also lose money which passengers could spend in the shopping or entertainment area if they didn’t have to stand in long lines. It is estimated that around 40% of global airport revenues are derived from non-aeronautical revenue streams (estimated 60% in the future), which shows the retail area has become a vital contributor to airports’ financial stability.

By leveraging AI technology airports can reduce wait times in queues and therefore increase passenger experience. AI-powered solutions can monitor and analyze foot traffic through airport facilities, identify crowd patterns and bottlenecks, estimate waiting times, and use these insights to help optimize queue and crowd management. Airports can also make use of the data on passenger movements, behaviors and habits to provide a personalized approach, for example, to VIP passengers.

AI has the potential to significantly raise the performance of airport screening equipment by automating this process and making check-ins, dropping off their bags, and even boarding a flight faster and more seemless for passengers. With face recognition technology, there is no need for passengers to show their passports during boarding. Passengers pass through security as their face has already been recognized and verified by the face recognition system. This cuts down the amount of time it takes for security, reduces queues, and helps airports become far more efficient.

Slip and fall detection

Airports shouldn’t forget about the proper physical security measures required to keep passengers and staff safe at all times. According to the statistics, more people get hurt at airports than on aircraft. This is not surprising considering the number of people who go through the airport in a hurry every day.

Slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of airport injuries. They can happen just about anywhere because of poorly maintained flooring, spilled liquids or just when hectic passengers trip and fall rushing to catch their flights. Ramp accidents occur quite often as well. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, there are about 27,000 ramp accidents at airports every year.

AI video analytics integrated into airport cameras can instantly detect when someone falls over and alert security teams of an accident. Being timely informed they can quickly initiate appropriate actions, reducing the possibility of severe consequences.

Unattended and lost baggage detection

AI technology enables accurate real-time detection of unattended baggage which has become a critical need for security personnel at airports. Unattended baggage can pose a potential threat at the airport as may contain explosives or other hazards. Such incidents have to be investigated, which takes time and causes flights to be delayed. Airlines and airports lose millions of dollars.

AI-powered solutions can be deployed to automatically detect objects such as suitcases and bags abandoned in some areas and not moved for a period of time and notify security personnel. It is even possible to trace back the person who’s left the baggage lingering.

Luggage theft is another common problem in airports. In case a piece of baggage is claimed stolen, AI-powered systems can run baggage and person search forensically. An operator can monitor the passengers’ activity before and after the reported incident, quickly identify the location of the stolen item, and trace a suspect.

Thermal screening

Millions of people traveling by air all over the world pose serious public health concerns. As the pandemic is still threatening the health of passengers, airports want to have robust technologies in place to address issues associated with the spread of infection.

Cameras powered with AI, can help screen passengers for elevated skin temperature, check social distancing, and make sure that people wear masks wherever mandatory. In case of non-compliance with regulations, security staff is alerted. The best advantage is that non-invasive thermal screening runs automatically without causing congestion and with large labor cost savings over manual screening. It also makes the thermal scanning process hassle-free and fast.

Final Takeaway

Today, AI technology allows airports to improve safety and security. Cameras empowered with AI video analytics turn into proactive security systems for real-time recognition of security threats. They are utilized to optimize situational awareness and automate response in case of high-impact scenarios. The smart use of data collected from AI video analytics allows airport managers to make informed decisions about optimizing airport performance to increase operational efficiency and enhance customer experience.

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