Commercial and municipal commuter airports present numerous security and operational challenges by their very nature.
Even smaller municipal airports cover vast physical areas with multiple structures to support aircraft and equipment and are accessible to high volumes of pedestrian and vehicular traffic every day.
The ability to effectively monitor daily operations and identify potential threats and liabilities is a priority to maintain business continuity and profitability, while ensuring the safety and security of employees, travellers, facilities and assets.
As commuter airports continue to grow in physical size and capacity, challenges grow exponentially.
Yet, even with the wave of intelligent analytics and control platforms, many conventional video systems lack the performance to cost-effectively meet demands and expectations of airport security and operations professionals.
This, in effect, has a far reaching impact on every aspect of security and safety operations, including dependency on manual processes, the cost and inefficiency of guard services and the predominantly reactive characteristics of expensive system deployments.
The practical application of 3D LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology is a game changer for airport security, safety and business operation applications, given the amount of data these systems generate.
3D LiDAR solutions see beyond the limitations of conventional 2D video imaging and analytics by transforming traditional video security systems, built purely on forensic methodologies, into real time proactive solutions that deliver extreme accuracy, performance and cost-efficiencies.
Understanding the basics of 3D LiDAR
To gain a better grasp on why 3D LiDAR technology represents such an important milestone for airport operations, it’s important to know why it’s different from conventional event detection and tracking solutions.
3D LiDAR is a time-of-flight (ToF) sensing technology that emits low power, eye-safe lasers that measure the time it takes for the laser to complete a round trip between the sensor and an object.
The resulting aggregate data is used to generate a 3D point cloud image, providing both spatial location and depth information to identify, classify and track moving objects in real time, and with extreme accuracy.
Complementary perception software then derives insights from 3D point data to define events and the speed and direction of its movement across the entire system’s coverage area.
When integrated with a VMS, 3D LiDAR sensors deliver real time actionable intelligence that provides valuable insights for security and operations personnel to help prevent potentially harmful events from occurring or escalating further.
And, since 3D LiDAR sensors incorporate lasers and do not require external lighting sources, they work 24/7 and under virtually any conditions.
3D LiDAR systems make cameras systems much more effective since they can direct a PTZ camera to precisely focus on a potential threat.
Once the threat has been identified, the camera (or multiple cameras) can then track each threat, in any direction and at any speed.
Even if the person or vehicle disappears behind an object such as a jetliner, cargo bin or any type of fixed asset.
Ideal for expansive airport facilities, 3D LiDAR sensors provide 360° coverage with a range of 15,000 square metres per sensor, effectively reducing hardware, software, cabling, networking and installation requirements typically required.
This extensive coverage range significantly lowers the cost of deployment per sq/ft and overall total cost of ownership (TCO) for large systems.
3D LiDAR solutions are also not subject to the same privacy concerns as 2D video and facial recognition devices.
No facial images or personally identifiable information is ever captured by LiDAR sensors, making it ideal for deployments in highly regulated applications and in public spaces.
The result is a hyper accurate and compliant detection, tracking and classification solution for all types of environments without compromising personal privacy.
It’s also most important to note that 3D LiDAR solutions are field proven to reduce false alarms by as much as 95%.
This translates into cost-savings in relation to labour resources, elimination of alarm fatigue and an increase in security and safety by enabling personnel to focus on events of interest.
Applying 3D LiDAR at airports
Given these characteristics and capabilities, 3D LiDAR solutions can dramatically elevate the efficacy of conventional video security and surveillance systems for commercial airports both inside and out.
For exterior airport applications, video systems empowered with 3D LiDAR technology dramatically improve security beyond perimeter protection with 360° spatial awareness extended to include all exterior areas within secured areas.
This includes parking facilities and remote long term parking lots as well as passenger ground transportation, pick-up and drop off areas.
The 3D LiDAR solution deployed for security purposes can be leveraged for a variety of business intelligence applications, including monitoring ground operations, runaway and taxiway traffic as well as cargo and maintenance areas.
The ability to autonomously document pedestrian and vehicle flow patterns provides airport operations with highly accurate real time and historical data to better allocate personnel resources and processes.
This includes everything from baggage handling to queue management for deliveries and personnel and traveller transportation services.
When deployed inside airport facilities, 3D LiDAR solutions provide the ability to simultaneously track up to 600 individuals per sensor in crowded terminals.
Here, the people and vehicle counting and tracking can assist with queue management to monitor and manage wait and dwell times to ensure smoother operations, which ultimately enhances the traveller experience.
3D LiDAR also provides a highly effective means of eliminating tailgating and piggybacking through security mantraps and revolving doors into secured areas, which is a prevalent challenge in busy airport terminals.
The accurate performance, versatility and cost-efficiency of 3D LiDAR solutions are already helping airports around the globe transform often reactive systems into proactive 3D solutions that see beyond the limitations of conventional 2D imaging.
There’s no doubt that 3D LiDAR is a game-changing technology.
By Enzo Signore, CEO, Quanergy Solutions