Md. company pushes airport perimeter system

Officials at a Silver Spring, Md.-based technology company plan to develop an end-to-end, comprehensive perimeter security system using existing radar systems that provide ground surveillance at airports.

The Secure Perimeter Area Network (SPAN) would fuse data from the Airport Surface Detection Equipment-3 (ASDE-3)with multiple sensors, such as chemical and biological, video cameras, radio frequency identification (RFID), and motion detection equipment. ASDE-3 provides radar monitoring of aircraft and surface vehicles at 34 major airports.

The information would give security personnel a common operational picture. Via an intelligent rules-based engine, the system would communicate information to security personnel near a possible event.

Technology Service Corp., a provider of specialized engineering services for radar, surveillance equipment and other systems, is developing the SPAN architecture.

At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, ASDE-3 sits on top of a Federal Aviation Association air traffic control tower and has a 360-degree view of an area with a range of about 2.5 nautical miles into Jamaica Bay, said Ann Barry, TSC's homeland security program manager.

If radar spots something in the bay, that data could be used to point long-range video cameras to that location. If a Coast Guard patrol is making routine checks of a buoy, then the rules-based engine would have that information and the system would communicate with security personnel to confirm the sighting, she said. However, if something suspicious is going on, the system would provide the necessary information to security personnel via the rules-based engine.

"You need to let the right people know the right information, and by that I mean you want to have closest person to the event to respond to the event," Barry said, adding that the system could track security personnel through RFID tags. She said the system also could feed streaming video through personal digital assistants carried by security personnel.

She said the software is needed to integrate the different parts into a single system. Company officials also want to develop a commercial off-the-shelf system that can be used at ports or rail stations. Small, military-type radar systems are not as powerful as the ASDE systems, but they can be deployed in a similar fashion.

Currently, company and Kennedy airport personnel are working to extract information from the ASDE-3 in a way that doesn't interfere with air traffic control and use it for perimeter intrusion detection, she said. The information would be displayed on a graphical user interface located in the security operations control center. The program is being funded by the Technical Support Working Group, a federal interagency program that coordinates and funds research and development of technologies to combat terrorism.

Barry said the ongoing project is scheduled to be completed in January. "The benefit is to get a second use out of it almost for free or for a nominal cost," she said.

The company is involved in a similar project at T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, which uses the ASDE-X radar designed for second-tier airports with a medium volume of air traffic, to develop a radar-based prototype for perimeter intrusion. The new ASDE-X will be deployed in about 40 airports nationwide.

Barry said SPAN is an evolution of the working group's project and could take up to two years to develop. However, company officials are talking with group members about funding it. She added that they also would also look to the Transportation Security Administration and Defense Department for funding.

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