In an age when disinformation can promote violence, a group of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University faculty will help secondary school teachers to recognize the online manipulation tactics used by extremist organizations, using an approach known as Inoculation Theory.
“Inoculation Theory is the idea that a little bit of exposure to something dangerous will make you more resilient when confronted with something more dangerous in the future,” said Dr. Diane Maye Zorri, assistant professor in the Department of Security Studies and International Affairs, adding that she first learned about the approach from assistant professor Dr. Daniel Gressang, who has spent most of his career at the National Security Agency. “We would like to expose people to the various ways that foreign actors and malicious entities are spreading disinformation, faulty statistics, conspiracy theories and false narratives.”
The program, which will bring the approach to Volusia County Schools’ “Volusia Learns!” 2022 summer professional learning conference, was recently awarded $232,700 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program.
“The project aims to prevent violent organizations from recruiting and mobilizing people,” said Zorri, who is the project’s principal investigator. “The Department of Homeland Security is looking for innovative solutions that can be done at the local level. … I thought this was something that paired well with the expertise of the Security Studies and International Affairs department, as well as faculty members from the Humanities and Communication and Math departments.”
Dr. Karen Gaines, dean of Embry-Riddle’s College of Arts & Sciences, stressed the importance of such work.
“This project will not only help prevent violent organizations from recruiting and mobilizing young people but will also nudge those vulnerable individuals to more productive life outcomes,” Gaines said. “The fact that we can do this here in Volusia County to help our community gives me great pride.”
As an example of an extremist ideology that is popular in social media groups, Zorri mentioned “sovereign citizens,” which asserts that the U.S. government and federal law enforcement are illegitimate.
“The jargon and pseudo-legal rationale and statistics perpetuated by this group are very persuasive and have successfully mobilized many people,” Zorri said, noting that the movement has led to deadly confrontations with law enforcement.
The program will give teachers tools and exercises for instructing young people about the dangers of such manipulation.
“The good news is that most extremist violence is not perpetuated by secondary school students,” said Zorri. “But this is where Inoculation Theory comes into play. By inoculating students early, the theory suggests they will be less susceptible to radicalization in the future.”
Delta Air Lines has expanded travel options to Europe using its Air+Rail program providing train connections to 20 more destinations, including 12 new cities for Delta customers in The Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and the U.K.
First launched in August 2021, for travel between Amsterdam and the Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp, this expansion enables connectivity directly from Brussels, Manchester, Rome Fiumicino and Zurich airports with one Delta ticket booking for the whole journey. Delta will also add the service from Geneva when its nonstop flights from New York-JFK begin in April 2023. The airline is working with leading rail operators in each country to provide onward train journeys via stations located at the airports.
“Building more Air+Rail connections into our schedule provides a greater choice of destinations for our customers, including a number of these cities not currently served by Delta or our European partners, such as Bern, Rotterdam and York,” said Alain Bellemare, Delta’s President – International. “Expanding our footprint in Europe also makes it more convenient for customers to get to popular city centre locations whether traveling for business or pleasure to make the most of their time away.”
Customers can use the train to travel from:
Brussels Airport to Breda and Rotterdam in the Netherlands with operator SCNB.
Manchester Airport to seven cities in the U.K. with operator TransPennine Express.
Rome Airport to four Italian cities including Bologna and Florence with operator Trenitalia.
Zurich/Geneva Airport to seven cities in Switzerland, including Bern and Lausanne with operator SBB.
Delta says using its Air+Rail service is easy as bookings include both segments, with those flying in Delta One receiving first class rail travel as standard. Customers need to collect their bags from the airport before arriving at the train station where tickets can either be printed in advance or collected from the station ticket office. If disruptions occur, Delta says they will be able to travel on the next available train or flight.
CLD Fencing Systems will be showcasing its latest generation of security-rated physical security systems at the International Security Expo 2022.
The company has a suite of physical security systems, independently third party tested by the Loss Prevention Certification Board, (LPCB), offering the ultimate in protection against attack.
It will be introducing Securus S4, the latest addition to the Securus fencing range, and putting several of its systems to the test on the LPCB Live Lab, a highlight of the Perimeter Protection Zone at the event.
Tested and certified to LPS 1175 Issue 8, Securus S4 has achieved a D10 (SR4) Rating, ensuring that assets have a guaranteed delay against an attack of 10 minutes minimum, using tools such as bolt cutters, hacksaws, jigsaws, drills and sledgehammers.
Of significance is the minimal amount of assembly required on site, which means it is faster to install with less risk of downtime on site due to lost components.
Securus fencing also includes the ability to swap out panels to achieve a different rating, ensuring the perimeter security fencing adapts to changing operational needs, while specific zones can be selected to deliver targeted protection too.
And with both permanent and temporary options, Securus can be introduced from the construction stage through to permanent operations, with matching access control options in place to ensure a seamless security process.
All this is achieved whilst maintaining excellent visibility to support security operations on site, with no visible fixings in place, no sharp edges that could cause injury and small apertures to keep objects out. Securus is also virtually impossible to climb over.
Russell Wells, Sales Director of CLD Fencing Systems, said: “Securus S4 is a great addition to our portfolio, right at the cutting edge of physical security.
“It joins the existing Securus range as a highly responsive solution, that keeps intruders out in even the most demanding circumstances, bringing maximum security and protection in a fast installation format.”
CLD Fencing Systems – the UK’s largest manufacturer and supplier of rigid mesh fencing systems and security gates – will be at stand number B122 at the Olympia event.
From there, a team of security experts will be on hand to discuss and advise on individual projects, and the company’s wide range of time proven and trusted products.
Russell added: “We understand that modern security personnel operate in a complex, rapidly changing environment, which can present a variety of challenges to the protection of personnel and facilities.
“Ensuring sites are impassable to intruders is a cornerstone of any security strategy, whether focused on the short, medium or long term.
“Around the world, we consistently deliver physical security systems which are widely regarded in the security community as the ‘best in class’ within environments including data centres, schools, transport, manufacturing, high security, sports grounds, protected open spaces and Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).
“Our expert team offers insight and guidance to the best possible security fencing and gate systems, bringing international experience, backed up by local level intelligence and service delivery on the ground that is second to none.
“Clients value our discreet, confidential and considered advice. As trusted advisors, they know we recognise a project has to be right first time and that our business has the scope and scale to meet their requirements.
“The end result is that specifiers can be certain that their projects are in safe hands.”
Dutch farmers, angry about new government regulations, used their tractors and trucks to block roads and distribution centers Monday, July 4. The protests were spurred by anger towards the government for plans that would require them to use less fertilizer and reduce livestock, as well as plans to slash emissions.
They also targeted Schipol Airport, the country’s largest hub, also advised people planning to travel during the protests to use public transportation to reach the airport as they believe the airport would be a target of the protesters.
Several traffic jams were reported on highways in the east of the country and on ferry routes in the north, but none near Schiphol during the morning commute.
Fishermen also joined the farmers in protesting the emission targets. They blocked the port in Harlingen with trawlers. Ferries to the islands of Terschelling and Vlieland could not leave for hours, news reports verified.
Shrimp fishermen, in particular, said they will have problems as a result of the government’s new regulations because next year they require applying for new fishing permits. Without making the required changes to their vessels, the permits might be withheld.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcing the availability of over $1.4 billion in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Grant funding. The CRISI Program, which is administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), advances projects that modernize America’s freight and passenger rail infrastructure, allowing people and goods to move more safely and efficiently and helping make goods more affordable for American families. This year, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law more than triples funding for the CRISI Program – a much-needed step to meet the heavy demand for rail funding from States and local communities. The program allocates at least 25% of total funds for projects in rural areas.
“Freight rail is a critical part of our supply chains, and when shipping costs come down, families pay less for goods,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today, because of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re thrilled to announce the biggest-round of funding ever to make both passenger and freight trains across America safer, faster, and more reliable.”
Higher funding levels enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also accelerate progress in building up infrastructure resilience and strengthening the supply chain, which in turns makes it less expensive to transport goods. The influx of new grant opportunities will allow FRA to invest in a wide range of projects that will mitigate passenger and freight rail congestion; enhance multi-modal connections; and improve and establish new intercity passenger rail corridors. Furthermore, CRISI grants are a major source of funding for short line railroads, whose operations bolster local economies and are crucial for supply chain fluidity. These nationwide investments will advance the Department’s key goals of infrastructure safety, efficiency, economic vitality, equity, and resiliency.
“Projects funded by these CRISI grants will generate economic opportunities and improve the travel experience in communities across America, whether urban or rural, large or small,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s massive boost to the CRISI Program, the funding made available today will help launch our country’s new rail revolution and maintain our rail network’s unmatched standards for safety and efficiency.”
In addition to projects that improve and expand freight and passenger rail infrastructure, CRISI grants will focus on safety projects such as grade crossing enhancements and rail line relocations and improvements as well as other priorities, including workforce development and training, regional rail and corridor planning, environmental analyses, and research and deployment of railroad safety technology. New project eligibilities also include measures to prevent trespassing and to rehabilitate, remanufacture, procure, or overhaul locomotives for emissions reduction projects.
The first call for proposals was launched in October 2021, resulting in a total funding of more than €270 million for over 240 strategic Border Crossing Points and customs laboratories across the EU. This will allow Member States to purchase, maintain or upgrade state-of-the-art customs equipment such as new scanners, radiation monitors, teams of sniffer dogs and other non-intrusive detectors for border crossing points as well as a variety of laboratory equipment for goods analysis.
Part of the Integrated Border Management Fund, CCEI supports Member States to finance detection equipment for goods crossing the EU’s external borders. The initiative has the twin aims of improving customs performance by contributing to adequate and equivalent results of customs controls throughout the EU, while helping EU customs authorities act as one single entity. The instrument is part of the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, with a financial envelope of €1 billion.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan was appointed Secretary of State for Transport in the UK on 6 September 2022. She was Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade from 15 September 2021 to 6 September 2022.
Previously Trevelyan was the UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency between 7 November 2020 and 6 September 2022. She was Minister of State (Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change) at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from January 2021 to September 2021 among other posts.
Trevelyan was first elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency at the 2015 general election.
A chartered accountant by trade, she sat on the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee from July 2015 to May 2017 and December 2018 to July 2019. She has previously served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence. As an MP, she has campaigned with colleagues for greater autism awareness and has focused on the Armed Forces Covenant.
Whether in small parcels in air cargo, or large containers on ships, trains, and trucks, smugglers are always trying to find new ways to evade detection. “It’s a chicken and egg situation,” said aviation security consultant Steve Wolff, president of Wolff Consulting Services. “Smugglers will try something and then, when they get found out, they’ll try something else.”
As a result, the range of items that need to be detected by cargo screening technology is wide and varied. “The common threats faced include explosives, weapons, narcotics, contraband, undeclared or misrepresented goods, currency, agricultural items, cultural artifacts, items presenting environmental risks, counterfeit goods, and weapons of mass destruction,” said Huayu Li, assistant president and general manager of international civil aviation with the security scanning technology company Nuctech.
When it comes to smuggling via large containers, the usual motive is profit, which is why the emphasis in screening ls is on the detection of illegal and banned goods. The same criminal motive plays a role in air cargo smuggling, but it is often accompanied by a desire to inspire terror through acts of mass destruction. “This is why the most common threats confronted by air cargo screening are explosives in their different forms,” said Harald Jentsch, head of Airports & Baggage Screening and interim head of Air Cargo Screening for Smiths Detection, a global leader in threat detection and screening technologies. “Beyond that, other contraband and dangerous/prohibited items like narcotics, currency, fireworks, and bio-threats are being met with increasing demand.”
Balancing Security and Speed
In a perfect world where time and money didn’t matter, it would be possible to painstakingly screen every piece of air, land and sea cargo using human-based examinations and searches. But we live in the real world where time and money do matter. So, to screen cargo in an economically viable manner, cargo inspections must be done in a timely yet thorough manner.
“Customs and border control agencies are always challenged to balance national security and economic interests,” said Mathieu Guillebaud, product development director with Leidos, a global provider of enterprise security technologies and solutions. “The facilitation of legitimate trade and travel are essential, but they also need to rapidly assess the legitimacy of cargo and travelers.”
This is why security personnel rely on 2D x-ray scanners and their 3D Computer Tomography cousins (aka CT, which employs a combination of x-ray scans from different angles and image processing by sophisticated scanning algorithms) to speed up the process while ensuring its thoroughness and accuracy. And because goods are moved using all shapes and sizes of containment, these scanners ran the gamut from small conveyor-belt type systems for air cargo to large drive-through rigs for trucks, trains, and seaborne shipping containers.
“When it comes to x-ray/CT systems we can split them into two big categories,” noted Sara Bracceschi, head of Consulting and Services for Customs at the Center for Adaptive Security Research and Applications (CASRA). “There are the low energy conventional systems that are used at airports for mail screening, baggage and air cargo. And then we have the high energy x-ray/CT systems that are used for shipping containers and vehicles such as cars, trucks, and trains.”
Whatever the cargo scanning system, vendors of this equipment are constantly making improvements and advances to keep up with smugglers, and get a step ahead of them whenever they can. Here are some of the technology trends that are making this possible.
Adopting Baggage Innovations
In the wake of 9/11, the terrorist security risks associated with air passenger travel have driven this sector to the forefront of automated, technology-based screening. But now everyone else is catching up: “Air cargo is starting to implement all the advances in technology that we’ve seen in airports,” said CASRA’s Bracceschi. “So 3D CT scanners for baggage, for mail, and the like are finding their way through to air cargo.”
As for ground cargo? “The bigger the object that has to go through the screening tunnel, the bigger the machine to scan it,” she said. Here too, advances in x-ray scanning equipment have made their way to the cargo market. “The original high energy system would only provide one view of the vehicle,” Bracceschi explained. “But now we have dual view systems, and sometimes these views can be combined with top and bottom views as well. In addition to x-ray systems that focus on penetration, security screeners are using ‘backscatter’ x-ray systems that can reveal details inside containers based on the dispersion of x-rays, which allow lower doses to be used.”
Getting More Out of CT
When it comes to scanning large cargo at the airport, size is an issue; specifically, “the size of the rotating slip ring in the CT,” said Nuctech’s Li. Cargo that is too big to be scanned within the CT’s rotating slip ring “needs to be manually separated, screened and repacked before it can be allowed through, which consumes a lot of manpower, time and valuable space at the airport.”
In order to solve the above problems, Nuctech has developed a new generation of static CT scanners that don’t require rotating slip rings to do their jobs. The three new models are the WooKong H, WooKong L, and CTitan.
“CTitan is the world’s largest CT security inspection equipment capable of scanning ULD (unit load device) or pallet-consolidated cargo as whole items,” Li said. “With a high-energy X-ray source, CTitan can scan ULD or palletized cargo up to 4.73m long and 3m high, capable of displaying a full 3D images of the entire ULD and detecting explosives automatically.”
Taking A Different Angle
Pallets/skids are a very common way to ship cargo, and one that can confound security screeners who need to do thorough checks while keeping goods moving though their facilities. To solve this problem, Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS) is developing the IDSS DETECT CS320 Scanner, with partial funding coming from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).
What makes the CS320 different is that it is designed to scan entire pallets from a horizontal position. “This solution thus reduces the footprint required of a typical X-ray or pseudo CT scanner that requires a skid to pass through the X-ray field,” said IDSS President and CEO Jeffrey Hamel. “As such, it will eliminate the need for break bulk scanning and significantly improve throughput in a 100% screening environment.”
While reducing the space and time required to screen pallets, the CS320 will provide high resolution fully rotatable 3-D images to operators “with the most comprehensive non-intrusive inspection tools to quickly identify explosives, and weapons hidden within full-sized packaged cargo pallets or skids without breaking them down,” said an IDSS news release. “The Artificial Intelligence (AI) detection algorithms will be enhanced to provide automated detection of potential threats and items of interest.”
For years, the sheer size and weight of x-ray/CT scanning systems have been limiting factors in their use in tight and/or spread-out locations. But things are changing: “Some vendors have developed small backscatter x-ray devices that are portable,” Wolff said. “These units are small enough that you can pick them up with two hands, walk to a container, and then place the device against the container wall to see what’s inside.”
Torn between deploying low portal scanning systems that won’t hurt humans or high-power systems that can see what’s inside steel-walled containers? Then why not do both? In today’s multi-threat, time-sensitive screening environment, “flexible, multi-energy portals (MEP) are vital for automating the commercial cargo inspection process for customs and border control agents,” said Leidos’ Guillebaud. “These systems provide a low energy scan for the passenger cab and higher penetrating X-ray dose for the container or trailer. With automation, MEPs help ensure all cargo is efficiently screened while maintaining a high throughput rate at inspection checkpoints.”
Not surprisingly, Leidos offers a MEP solution for these kinds of situations. “The Leidos VACIS IP6500 MEP was the first of its kind and has been deployed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” Guillebaud said. Better yet, the Leidos system also accesses driver immigration information and truck manifest automatically using RFID and/or QR code technology. “As this information is combined into a single integrated data package, officers can adjudicate the cargo or conveyance without the driver exiting the cab,” he noted.
Doing the Neutron Dance
Forget the Pointer Sisters: In those situations where x-rays/CTs have a difficult time penetrating truly dense materials, neutron-emitting scanning systems can provide security screeners with the ‘in-sights’ they need to detect dangerous materials and contraband.
“If someone’s shipping a whole bunch of engine blocks, it’s very hard for the x-ray machines to penetrate, to see what’s actually inside those blocks,” said Wolff. “But neutrons can penetrate dense objects very easily. Where they tend to fall down is in the very light stuff, but this is an area where x-rays excel; making the two technologies complementary to each other.”
“There’s other things you can do with neutrons as well,” he added. “For example, you can use neutrons to do elemental spectroscopy. This allows you to look at the elemental composition of items inside the container.” This is a faster alternative to breaking open boxes and/or running dogs around the containers during secondary searches, after primary searches point to something suspicious.
Getting More From The Data
Today’s modern CT scanning systems rely on image-processing algorithms to translate the raw x-ray data into viewable, intelligible images. “Companies such as Smiths Detection are constantly improving algorithms for the automatic detection of dangerous goods, prohibited items, currencies, wildlife, and counterfeit products,” said Jentsch. “Advancements such as iCMORE (the company’s latest generation of detection algorithms) will only continue to advance the specificity of screening.”
In addition to enhancing its image-processing algorithms, Smiths Detection is doing what it can to improve overall image quality and resolution, as well as making its user interface more intuitive. The company’s goal is to speed up the air cargo screening process without compromising security.
That’s not all: “Increased networking capabilities, the advancement of data-analytics, connectivity, and operational management will deliver strong operational advantages for air cargo operators,” Jentsch said. One such advance is the adoption of Open Architecture (OA) software, which enables the interoperability and interfacing of security screening algorithms, and screening hardware from different suppliers within one solution. “OA is progressing to gain acceptance once regulatory requirements are fulfilled,” he noted.
Bring On The AI
With its ability to crunch massive amounts of data quickly and derive useful analyses from these efforts, artificial intelligence (AI) is proving to be a very useful tool for automated cargo screening
A case in point: “Cybersecure and operationally resilient software platforms – with AI-based analysis algorithms for threat detection — are beginning to accelerate and force-multiply customs operations,” said Leidos’ Guillebaud. “Leidos’ enterprise software platforms utilize these capabilities to enable customs agencies to centralize and leverage their scan data. They can also correlate scans with other internal data sources, apply AI assistance at scale, and deliver that information securely within their organization or with other trusted organizations. Furthermore, these innovations support remote analysis and manifest verification in operational environments.”
Nuctech sees similar benefits from harnessing AI to automated cargo screening. “When it comes to image and dangerous goods recognition, AI technology can provide a great deal of help,” Li said. For instance, AI can reduce the impact of human error by avoiding omissions and security vulnerabilities caused by security personnel fatigue, bribery and other factors. It can also improve screening efficiency because an AI’s computing speed is much faster than the human brain, and AI can perform a vast number of repetitive tasks accurately without the need to rest; reducing labor costs in the process.
AI is not a ‘magic bullet’. “Although AI recognition is developing rapidly, the role of human beings cannot be completely replaced, because complex and/or unknown situations still need to be manually handled,” said Li. “In addition, when it comes to safety issues, the conclusions drawn by an AI-enabled screening system still needs to be judged by a human security inspector.”
“AI is not a panacea,” Wolff agreed. “It works best when you have a controlled population and you’re trying to figure out something within that population, like doing facial recognition for a company like Amazon. You collect facial data on the entire population of Amazon, and then apply AI as a security screening device. In this context, it works very well.”
Where AI starts “falling down” is in uncontrolled situations, he continued. “If something comes in that’s not in the data set, the computer reacts in unfamiliar ways. I call it ‘computer panic’: The AI-enabled computer doesn’t know what to do because it has not seen that test case before. So, it kind of panics and throws out something that’s quite often very, very strange.”
More Innovation Is Coming
Although the many advances made in cargo screening to date have made the process faster, reliable, and able to handle large volumes of shipments, the quest to perfect this technology is unceasing. This is why the future development goals of cargo security inspection is to continually improve the safety levels and the speed of security clearance, while reducing the use of human operators in the system.
“For instance, CT equipment is already the highest level of security equipment for cargo scanning in the industry, so the future may be improved by the combination of CT and other security inspection technologies,” concluded Li. “There is also plenty of room to improve AI recognition functions, including the accuracy of AI recognition and expansion of the recognition range.”
CCTV security systems are becoming sharper (in image resolution), smaller (in form factor), and smarter—thanks to artificial intelligence/AI that can detect intruders automatically. For the transportation sector, these advances offer the opportunity to enhance security, personnel, and property protection at any locations where their aircraft, ships, trains, and trucks are vulnerable.
To put these advances into context and to better understand the threats that they are now addressing, TSI magazine posed questions to experts in the CCTV industry. Here is what they told us
What is Driving CCTV Development?
Judging by what the experts told us, there are a myriad of factors shaping the development of CCTV technology today.
The fundamental force is the deteriorating state of security and safety across the globe.
“The threat situation and the geopolitical situation have changed and in many cases have become more acute,” said Josua Braun, marketing director with Dallmeier, a manufacturer of video security products/solutions. “Accordingly, the demands in security are increasing, especially for video systems. Many of our customers report — in addition to the actual protection and security function — that the potential threat from insecure or deliberately open systems is playing an increasingly important role; namely cybersecurity.”
The need to cope with these increasing threat levels are motivating CCTV manufacturers to move far beyond passive CCTV camera feed watched by human monitors. “In the transport sector in particular, in addition to ‘classic’ security applications, we are increasingly seeing process optimizations driven not least by increasingly powerful analysis and AI systems,” Braun told TSI. “Examples of this are virtual/remote tower solutions, systems for the detection of watercraft in port areas, and AI-object classification that help reduce the number of false alarms in perimeter protection, thus optimizing security and the cost situation for clients.”
Johnson Controls is a global player in the transportation security market, offering products and solutions for air, land, sea, and port management. “We provide sensors, cameras, and video management, access control and intrusion solutions that integrate with a wide list of third party products to enhance small, large and enterprise security operations,” said Nathan Floyd, the company’s director of vertical solutions. “We help some of the largest and heaviest trafficked in the transportation industry identify, face and defend against the most substantial risks.”
Asked about the factors driving CCTV technology development these days, Floyd offers a laundry list of trends. “They include AI, cloud management, fusion (3D) cameras, increased volume and sophistication of cyber-attacks, increased governmental regulations, operational efficiency (do more with less), employee shortages, and evolving threats,” he said.
Simon (Sam) Samuels is principal consultant with SGW Safety and Security Consultancy in the UK. His assessment of factors influencing the CCTV technology sector is a negative one. “Key trends are (the) defective use of pixel density as a design criteria,” said Samuels; in other words, “relying on manufacturers’ data sheets rather than the requirements of relevant standards and recommended practices.”
Coming from CCTV technology development from an entirely different angle, Mark Steinberg is senior technologist at B&H Photo Video Audio, a consumer/business AV equipment retailer based in New York City. “The IoT (Internet of Things) is of growing interest and becoming increasingly integral to many surveillance products and systems,” he said. For instance, clients want their CCTV camera feeds to be accessible using voice commanded apps and smart speakers, and to be able to see these feeds on their own mobile devices and monitors. “Remote access is paramount for small and medium sized businesses as well. It is also becoming increasingly important in real estate for vacation homes, rental properties and landlords in general,” said Steinberg. In addition, “I have experienced a noticeable uptick of requests for CCTV cameras that can be solar powered.”
How CCTV Suppliers Are Responding
Faced with so many customer needs to be satisfied, CCTV equipment manufacturers, vendors, and consultants are responding to their demands in a variety of ways.
Dallmeier is taking a Big Picture approach to this situation. “We develop and manufacture CCTV camera systems, recording and management and analysis software,” Braun explained. “A key differentiator of our technology is the way we cover large areas with video technology.”
A case in point: “Thanks to our patented ‘PANOMERA’ multifocal sensor cameras, our customers need a significantly smaller number of camera systems than with conventional solutions – and with better detail resolution,” he said. “This increases objective security, especially in the port/airport and logistics sector, provides the basis for good analysis results and significantly reduces the ‘Total Cost of Ownership’.”
Meanwhile, “Johnson Controls‘ disciplined approach to product lifecycle management allows us to continually innovate with breakthrough edge devices like the Illustra Multisensor camera, a device with four independent motorized cameras built into a single easy-to-install housing,” said Floyd. “With its deep learning AI-enabled capability, the MultiSensor is designed for complete coverage with a faster installation, lower total cost of ownership and consistent software product releases that improve efficiency and add features.” He added that Johnson Controls’ development and operational processes ensure that its software and hardware are well tested and properly supported by a timely assessment of vulnerabilities and over-the-air deployment of patches.
Over at B&H, their strategy is to serve a wide range of business and consumer CCTV customers, rather than one specific sector such as transportation. As a result, “we offer thousands of products in our surveillance category,” Steinberg said. “We offer mostly off-the-shelf and plug-and-play solutions that appeal to the broad security market.”
Finally, Samuels is working to improve the ability of CCTV systems to accurately capture and process video images. “CCTV has been a security tool for many years, and the best tool for assessing the quality of CCTV images has been the Rotakin Test, a 1600mm x 400mm target developed by the UK’s Home Office in the 1980s,” explained his online article, ‘CCTV Video Image Calculator (VIC) & Screen Assessment Matrix (SAM)’. “The new CCTV Video Image Calculator (VIC) & Screen Assessment Matrix (SAM) has been designed within the requirements of IEC 62676-4 (the new measurement standard), to provide the tools necessary for measuring the image quality of CCTV systems, camera setup, commissioning and auditing of CCTV fields of views, which provides for quantified, consistent and repeatable results.” The entire article can be viewed at sgw-consulting.co.uk.
(Note: IEC is the acronym for the International Electrotechnical Commission, the international standards organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.)
AI and CCTV
The use of AI-enabled processing to enhance, interpret, and recommend action on specific CCTV images has already been touched on in this article. However, this trend is so important that it deserves its own section.
When it comes to CCTV security as a whole, “the analysis of video footage by AI systems is becoming increasingly important,” said Braun. “The areas of application are theoretically limitless: On the one hand, AI can serve as assistance systems in the classic sense to improve objective security performance. On the other hand, there are more and more AI application scenarios that contribute to the optimization of processes, especially in the transport and logistics sector, and thus offer a high cost-saving potential.”
“Artificial Intelligence is extremely beneficial in the transportation market today and will change the industry going forward,” Floyd agreed. “Using deep learning algorithms to build confident models, Johnson Controls systems allow operators to perform daily tasks more efficiently like forensic searches. Captured by cameras with AI now being used as advanced edge sensors that bring near real time escalations or alerts to professionals for evaluation and action.”
Whether for business or consumer CCTV applications, AI-aided cameras with built-in video analytics and/or thermal imaging are regularly requested by B&H customers. “AI cameras that zoom, pan, and rotate without any human input are proving valuable as they can save payroll and human capital while providing safety in hazardous conditions/environments,” said Steinberg. “Combined with thermal cameras and deep learning, AI can provide public safety by detecting people with raised temperatures in all kinds of public spaces like schools and entertainment/sporting venues. AI CCTV applications can be used in healthcare for contactless examinations. AI-assisted cameras and storage systems can provide invaluable assistance to the police, public transportation, traffic control, waste management, marine applications, mining operations, oil rigs, and a host of other businesses and applications.”
This being said, the current level of industry understanding about AI’s full potential in CCTV surveillance leaves something to be desired, Samuels noted. “AI is useful in assessing both behavior analysis (movement, left object, missing objects) and facial recognition,” he allowed. “However, there is a disconnect in the processing and assessment of images which is addressed within IEC 30137-1. Unfortunately, as with IEC 62676, there is a lack of competence within the CCTV industry to comprehend the intent and benefit of these standards”
As we have seen, the state of CCTV technology has moved far beyond low-resolution black and white cameras and monitors, which were watched by human operators often bored out of their minds by the tedium of the job. Thanks to HDTV, computers, and AI, CCTV surveillance has become a proactive and precise science, with AI-enabled systems doing the ‘heavy lifting’ of watching camera feeds for anomalies. Only when something seems amiss are humans called in to make decisions and take action, thus removing boredom from the security equation.
The CCTV technology industry never sleeps. They are constantly striving to make CCTV surveillance systems even sharper, smaller, and smarter.
So, what’s on the horizon? “There is a move to higher and higher resolution cameras,” said Samuels. “This is driven by manufacturers and gullible clients. It would be better to improve the quality of images and optimize them to a single resolution (2160 or 1080) with high speed capture capability.” He also predicted “a deterioration of the quality of images due to the need to over-compress the resultant large files.” plus a “continued deterioration of the quality of installations and designs.”
Samuels isn’t the only expert puzzled by the push for higher resolution cameras. “Funnily enough, camera manufacturers have not really thought about how to optimize the use of the valuable resource of ‘resolution’,” Braun observed. “We still have far more pixels than necessary in the front image area, and too few in the back. Dallmeier has broken through this seemingly ‘physical truth’ with our multifocal sensor technology — to the advantage of customers, who have a much better overview with fewer cameras and absolute detail accuracy.”
At Johnson Controls, Nathan Floyd is expecting significant advancements in automated CCTV responses without human intervention. “Automated responses reduce time delays while improving safety and security when threats are present,” he said. “The future will also see more open standards wrapped with cloud technology that bring together the smarts of intelligent systems, buildings, and cities.”
B&H’s Steinberg believes that the latest generation of mobile telephone transmissions — 5G — should significantly improve the performance and accessibility of wireless CCTV cameras connected over these networks. “5G is 100 times faster than 4G, handles more devices with less bandwidth and at lower bit rates, handling them all simultaneously,” he explained. At the same time, optimized encoding will help lower bit rates and bandwidth use, thereby lowering the amount and cost of CCTV video storage, thus providing users with better returns on their investment, said Steinberg. “Improved AI and deep learning integration will help implement, deploy, and maintain surveillance and access systems lowering the overall acquisition costs and maintenance costs.”
Another trend that will affect CCTV’s future: “The convergence of imaging and analysis techniques is only just beginning — we will see many more interesting applications here!” Braun said. “At the same time, of course, we also expect new regulations when it comes to things like facial recognition. The world of video technology is and will remain exciting!”
The bottom line: “CCTV is a critical component to securing the transportation vertical,” said Floyd. Its importance in enhancing this security will only grow in years to come as the threats become more diverse and dangerous, and the technology more adept at anticipating and foiling them.
Lorries queueing for miles on end at Dover awaiting their turn to board the ferry to France, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport forced to shelter thousands of passengers in tents as passport control lines stretch all the way to the parking lot, major airports taking the unprecedented step of capping the number of passengers in a desperate attempt to avoid infrastructure collapse…these are just some of the situations those travelling in Europe have had to endure this summer.
Throughout the continent, passport control counters became a trap for millions of unsuspecting travelers and it’s hard to attribute this dire state of affairs to a single cause. Brexit seems to have played a role as far as movements between the UK and the rest of Europe are concerned, since it brought about more cumbersome border checks. In other places understaffing may have been the key factor.
After two years of abnormally low traffic flows due to covid, travel demand has bounced back with a vengeance, catching many in industry and governments utterly unprepared. It takes time to hire and train new border security and airport staff and additional security vetting requirements may slow down the recruitment and onboarding process even further.
Looking ahead, and with international air travel demand right on track to get back to its ascending pre-Covid trend, there’s a distinct possibility that things will just keep getting worse over the long term. Even back in 2018, IATA’s One ID key principles paper was pretty blunt about the risk of passport control becoming a bottleneck that strangles passenger flows saying: “current infrastructure is incapable of supporting forecasted growth without finding innovative methods and processes to support this growth.”
The more or less universal wish to streamline the airport experience must be squared with the strong pressure most governments face to keep their borders secure and travelers safe. It’s a fine balancing act. Are industry and regulators able to prevent scenes like those of last summer from becoming a permanent feature of air travel?
Identity Verification Technology to the Rescue
Border control procedures are still designed around that good old classic, the passport, which remains, to this day, the basic document for international travel. To be fair, today’s passports are way more than a piece of paper. Issuing governments keep adding sophisticated security features, from holograms to special inks, that are designed to make them hard to forge. There is an arms race between authorities and counterfeiters, to the point that the numerous features in a passport can be too much to handle by even a trained person.
The degree of sophistication is such that some manufacturers of passport scanning technology, such as Latvia-based Regula Forensics are marketing photo-spectral scanners able to capture the passport’s details in so much detail that it is possible for border control officers at an airport to request remote support from highly trained specialists. These can verify the authenticity of the passport with pretty much the same degree of confidence they would have if they had it in their hands.
It is not the purpose of this piece to describe in detail the myriad of different security features of varying complexity modern passports incorporate – those have been already described thoroughly in some earlier articles – but to explore, more broadly, the different ways in which technology may be soon streamlining the cross-border travel experience. Like pretty much every other human activity, passport and border control technology has gone digital…up to a point.
ePassports have been around for more than fifteen years and given us a first glimpse of what a digitally-enhanced border control may look like. But, as we shall soon see, we are, so far, just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
When it comes to introducing new technology in an area as sensitive as international border crossings and air travel, with its many national security implications, some sort of international agreement is necessary. ICAO’s Doc 9303, for example, describes the framework that is what has made possible the almost universal adoption of epassports.
Machine readable personal data and RFID chips containing biometric data as well as a small antenna able to exchange data with passport reading machines have brought about some of the most tangible changes for passengers going through airport checkpoints.
Automated eGate and kiosks, for example, are becoming ever more common at airports, streamlining immigration procedures by performing biometric checks on incoming passengers.
According to SITA’s 2021 Air Transport IT Insights report, 59% of polled airports plan to have automated border control equipment in place by 2024. What’s more, nearly three quarters of airports consider biometric and ID management solutions to be a priority area for investment.
OCR readers are seeing demand go up in non-aeronautical fields too. Csaba Nagy-Amigó, business development director of Adaptive Recognition, a maker of optical character recognition (OCR) readers based in Budapest and with a presence in more than 150 markets, explains how heightened security concerns are driving demand for their devices. For example, in Hungary, Adaptive’s home market, hotels are now required to scan their guests’ passports rather than filling a paper form upon arrival.
OCR readers are also able to extract the biometric information contained in the passport, which can then be matched to a fingerprint, face or iris scan. “What the machine does is check your biometric data and check that it matches the parameters contained in the document you are presenting at that time and place,” explains Alexander Zahn, managing director at Desko, a German manufacturer of passport-scanning machines, which is one of the leading players in this market.
“Once it has been established that the person is, indeed, the holder of that document, government agencies may perform further checks against their own databases to see if that person is allowed to proceed further or gets flagged for some reason,” he elaborates. The system is, thus, not yet fully digital, a physical passport must still be presented.
Zahn is careful to establish the difference between automated and touchless technology. In the former there is no human intervention, but you would still be required to manually manipulate some equipment, for example placing a passport on a reader.
For obvious reasons, touchless processes became popular during the pandemic. They have already entered our daily lives through applications such as mobile payment and banking apps that would have your phone scan your face or the iris of your eye to greenlight an operation. Touchless applications, however, usually require some sort of prior onboarding process with the user consenting to biometric data being collected and linked to a specific identity.
This is the case, for example, of opt-in programs where members voluntarily submit some personal data and in exchange get a streamlined experience. These include government-run programs, such as the CBP’s Mobile Passport Control app in the U. S., but also those run by private operators (albeit in close cooperation with government agencies) such as Clear, which offers fast-tracking at tens of airports across America.
“When we are talking about the provision of personal data there is a difference between what falls within the realm of passenger facilitation and that of regulatory requirements. We talk about facilitation when the traveler volunteers personal data in exchange for a better experience. Facilitation programs are not mandatory, but they provide a small scale testing ground for new technologies that may later pass onto the regulatory domain,” explains Guillaume Xavier-Bender, associate director at LAM-LHA Consulting, a consultancy firm specializing in aviation security and innovation.
Data privacy is, of course, a sensitive topic and one over which it is easy for people to harbor conflicting opinions. For example, the 2021 IATA Global Passenger Survey indicates up to 73% of air travelers are interested in using biometric information instead of the combination of passport and boarding passes for the different airport procedures. At the same time, the same report found that more than half of them are also concerned about personal data loss or worried about not knowing how and by whom their personal data is handled.
Rather strikingly, while 88% of respondents were willing to share immigration data with the relevant authorities in order to expedite the procedures, only 51% were inclined to share biometrics with third party operators, such as travel service providers. This is not a trivial point, since some of the boldest projects right now in the field of border control technology are based on the idea of travelers using a single biometrics-based digital identity throughout the whole travel journey.
Biometrics: Beyond Border Control
Identity verification going entirely paperless would have massive implications for air travelers, which is why both ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) and IATA (the International Air Transport Association) are working in parallel on digital identity projects.
The Digital Travel Credential (DTC) is a project of ICAO, the civil aviation agency of the United Nations.
Developed in cooperation with the International Standards Organization (ISO) and other partners, the DTC aims to provide a digital equivalent to the traditional travel document.
The DTC has two components, a physical and a digital one, that are linked cryptographically. It would be issued by the same government bodies that issue conventional travel documents and contain the same data and security features that electronic machine-readable travel documents (eMRTD), like epassports, do.
There are three types of DTC depending on the degree of independence from the existing passport format.
The first, most basic, version, the so-called DTC Type 1 was already endorsed by ICAO in November 2020. It would allow the user to self-generate the DTC, but the physical component will still be the passport, which will need to be presented when requested. DTC Type 2 would see a government-issued token that could be presented on its own, but always keeping the physical passport as a backup for reference purposes. Finally, Type 3 would do away with the physical passport completely. You would be able to travel around with the DCT on your mobile phone. At this stage, the physical component of the DTC is not the passport, but the smartphone.
The potential of DTC not only resides in its ability to streamline immigration procedures, but also in the capability to integrate other touch points along the travel journey that require identity verification, from airline check-in and boarding to vaccination status verification or even lounge access. It is not surprising then, that IATA has also taken an active interest in the matter, with its One ID program moving in a similar direction.
Just as in the aforementioned opt-in schemes, adoption of DTC and other digital identity formats by private businesses will likely be a gradual process.
Fast-track to Business Opportunities?
The passport verification industry is already taking into consideration the need to integrate their systems with the broader travel services ecosystem.
For example, Vision-Box, a Portuguese firm that has installed eGates at airports such as Dubai and Singapore’s Terminal 4 has designed its Orchestra identity verification system so that it can communicate seamlessly with other third party systems.
Even in this highly regulated environment, government agencies rely heavily on private operators to develop and run most of these technologies.
“This is a competitive market: on one hand, there is a group of firms that have a long tradition of working side by side with national governments in developing identity and authentication solutions, on the other, a handful of younger companies which have been making inroads in the market through innovation,” explained LAM-LHA Consulting’s Xavier-Bender.
Nagy-Amigó, of Adaptive, confirms the role of startups in driving innovation forward in this space, “Everyone in this industry pay attention to entrepreneurs, you often see small teams working on interesting deep science problems which end up being acquired by the incumbents,” he explained while describing how some of the hottest technologies of the moment, such as artificial intelligence and neural networks, are employed by the passport verification industry. “Our scanners use a form of artificial intelligence. You train it to recognize the different forms, shapes and patterns that are added to passports to enhance their security,” Nagy-Amigó added.
An immediate area of opportunity for companies operating in this space is the upcoming implementation of the European Entry/Exit System (EES). EES is, in essence, the EU’s visa-waiver program, which will require visitors from outside the bloc (including the U. S., UK and Canada), to pre-register their details electronically in a way similar to the U. S. ESTA. Preparations for the implementation of this system, which will cover the EU’s external borders, are already under way with a view to a general roll out in May next year.
“We anticipate a wave of investment in border control technology as European states prepare their international gateways for the EES rollout” explained Yann Tremeac, product line manager for Borders at Thales. The European aerospace and defense giant, which in 2019 acquired the Dutch firm Gemalto, one of the leaders in the identity solutions space, is marketing a new generation of passport kiosks that include many of the state-of-the-art biometric technologies that are ready for deployment.
Thales has also been running pilot tests at several airports and railway stations in Spain and France, with biometrics playing a major role. For example, at the test being run at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, biometric checks are done through tablet-type devices, an approach that will limit physical contact and is expected to accelerate throughput.
Just as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of many digital technologies, will the introduction of the EES act as a catalyst for the popularization of the digital identity programs?
What seems likely is that as governments push for travelers to use digital identity documents, new opportunities will open in this market in years to come for established operators and startups alike.