That's a big change from SPS' old video surveillance system, which required security guards to watch monitors from booths in the lots. The parking-card access incident might have gone unnoticed under the old system because there was no one on-site at the time. And "it would have been too late to react when we did find out" because SPS wouldn't have been able to quickly send the clips to the airline, Danberry says.
Security has been a problem in the employee parking lots of the New Jersey airport. The high crime rate in the area, along with heightened security after 9/11, prompted SPS last year to ratchet up security in its employee parking lots, which span 21 acres and 2,250 spaces. "We had the problem of how to provide better security and service, but not at too high of a cost," Danberry says.
So SPS, with the help of Omni Security Services, an integrator specializing in surveillance technology, selected a wireless security system that uses IP video, voice and data to monitor the comings and goings in these isolated parking areas. It also lets airport bus drivers, as well as SPS technicians, automatically open and close gates in SPS parking lots to limit access during passenger pickups and drop-offs, for instance. Call boxes stationed in the lots run on the network as well, so airline and federal Transportation Security Administration employees can call SPS' monitoring site if they need assistance. SPS just brought a third parking lot onto the network and plans to add a fourth to the network later this year.
The surveillance system for Newark Airport's employee parking lots runs on a 10-Mbps, Motorola Canopy wireless system. Vanguard Managed Solutions' 6435 multimedia routers and RemoteVU Guardian IP video transmitters, Hewlett-Packard Co. ProCurve switches and Motorola Canopy Subscriber Units are the main network devices at each lot. Each parking lot on the network has its own wired Ethernet LAN with wireless access to SPS' central command post, about a mile away.
Although wireless at first seemed risky for the backbone given the potential radio interference at the airport and strict FAA regulations with the surrounding airwaves, it was the best fit for retrofitting the parking lot security on SPS' budget (see "The Hard Sell"). Bandwidth was just too pricey, says Ray Patalano, product line manager for IP video solutions at Vanguard, which designed the network for Omni Security and SPS. A dedicated DS-3 WAN would have cost SPS about $1 million per year, including the full-time monitoring costs, he says.