Canadian Security Magazine

Halifax Stanfield unifies security on the network

Jennifer Brown   

News Data Security

As the busiest air hub in Atlantic Canada, Halifax Stanfield International Airport (HSIA) sees 3.4 million travellers pass through its doors every year and the number of flights continue to increase. The airport contributes $1.15 billion to the provincial economy and is responsible for almost 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. A recent traffic survey conducted in front of the air terminal building over a seven-day period counted 48,000 vehicles moving in and around the front of the area.

In the near future, a five-storey parking garage will be constructed in
front of the terminal building and security will expand to those
projects as well as increase coverage on the airside.

“It’s a complex operation — the airport is a living business,”
says Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) security manager
Mario Carbonneau. “We have so many people and so many flights to manage
and an operation of this magnitude requires cooperation with

When the airport underwent an expansion in 2004, and again in
2006, which included the establishment of a U.S. pre-clearance facility
— the only one in Atlantic Canada — it provided the opportunity to
upgrade security systems at the facility. Top of mind was to establish
a 21st century network capable of handling state-of-the-art security
equipment including IP surveillance video and access control data that
would now be travelling via the network.

The $4 million project began in 2004 and was completed in the
fall of 2006 following the expansion of the airport. “With the
expansion we had to come up with a new, centralized system because we
had installed a lot more internal and external cameras and we had a
greater area to cover,” says Carbonneau.


While he won’t say exactly how many cameras are now installed
at the airport, the new system can handle additional units and
Carbonneau says he is looking to expand the network in a few years.
Working with Carbonneau and the HIAA security department was a team
that included integrator Chubb Security Systems, as well as consultant
Dan Butler, manager, security and IT systems group with Marshall
Macklin Monaghan Group Ltd. (MMM).

has 20 years experience in the industry and has done extensive work for
the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), responsible for
deploying the Restricted Area Identification Card security screening
systems throughout the country.
Butler conducted an evaluation of the existing HSIA building and then
developed a plan to integrate the two expansion projects.

“We went through their whole facility, built a new network and
converted the airport to a common use model. All the gate counters are
now based on common use and security needed a network too, so we
procured and designed a rather robust network to run this facility that
is fully redundant,” says Butler. “It’s one of the advantages of going
to an integrated solution. I know security people like to have their
own networks, but if I put one good network in for the whole airport I
can get a better network for less money.”

Butler says that rather than “counting on a vendor to give you
whatever he can get away with to keep the price down and win the bid”¦”
MMM designed a network separately. “The quality of the network you end
up with is better,” he says.

The IP-based access control and intercom system at HSIA was
part of the project as well. The airport also deployed the C-Cure
800/8000 security management system on the network, which integrates
CCTV with other system components. The security operations centre
monitors the system 24/7. A biometrics system is also integrated with
C-Cure as part of the Restricted Area Identification Card (RAIC)
program which involves two systems — fingerprint and iris scanner.

“We have 3,500 people programmed into the C-Cure system from
372 companies. It’s a lot of people moving in and around the airport,”
says Carbonneau. “It’s a very smart system — not much goes on in the
airport without it knowing. For example, if someone tried to bypass
security, within seconds we could see that person on the cameras and
follow them.”

When it came time to switch from the old system to the new
one, with all pieces of the security system unified on the network,
there were some challenges changing over from the old system.

“The biggest problem was some of the old system was from the
Transport Canada maintenance days that had been patched and added to
over a 10- or 15-year period since the late 80s,” he says.

In choosing an IP video surveillance system, HIAA chose
Omnicast from Quebec-based Genetec, which was recommended by Butler.
MMM had used the product in other installations.

“They chose it for the classic reasons to have an IP system,”
says Steve Bocking, sales manager, Canada at Genetec. “It’s a campus
style, large surface facility and running it in the traditional way of
home-running it to a central location or coaxial cable didn’t make

“Scalability is the big thing. We focus on three issues in a
CCTV system — open architecture, scalability and failover archiving,”
says Bocking.

The RFP asked for a complete IP solution available from
multiple integrators, says Butler. “That was a big thing — that we
could get the product from more than one integrator. That was part of
the basis of the evaluation,” he says. “It’s a big deal for the client
because if you get into a proprietary solution that is only available
from one vendor — you’re stuck for life.”

Butler says HSIA wanted a true IP solution as opposed to a
conventional matrix. “The problem with conventional matrix is that
whenever you want to change anything you have to run coaxial cable all
the way back to the switch. Part of the challenge was we were moving
that facility but we didn’t know where we were moving it to,” he says.
“The beauty is you wire it back to the nearest LAN room and then you’re
on the network. If they want to put their security operation centre in
downtown Halifax they could do it.”

Because airport security operations centres are often located
in the centre of the building, if there is a bomb scare or an
unattended bag, the operations centre has to evacuate the area. “I’ve
seen this in some airports — the police come in and say ”˜Ok, here’s the
perimeter and you’re closed. You guys (operations centre) all have to
leave.’ So it was easy, with the IP system, to say we better set up a
training room at the other end of the building to move the operations
centre to for emergencies and it just means plugging a PC into a LAN

Carbonneau also emphasizes the importance of the airport’s
iWatch program, which educates members of the airport community about
staying aware of suspicious activities in their surroundings.
“We try to educate every RAIC holder that they are responsible for
security as well and we have a training program to do that. To get the
card you have to attend a training presentation that reinforces the
idea that everyone is responsible for reporting any activity they think
is suspicious. We have rewards for people who report incidents to us
and it works well,” he says.

HSIA also has support from the Corps of Commissionaires.
“We have a great team here at the Halifax airport; you can’t do
security on your own — it’s a partnership. We have a great relationship
with Transport Canada, CATSA, the RCMP and other agencies."

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