Canadian Security Magazine

How Pearson International Airport deploys intelligent video

By Canadian Security   

News Transportation

Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport is Canada's busiest airport.  It is projected that by 2020, the airport will reach the 50-million passenger mark.  Its new Terminal Development Project will facilitate the merger of the existing Terminals 1 and 2 into one central terminal.

With its ever increasing security demands, Pearson recognized the need for an advanced video security management system, a large-scale, intelligent video platform that provides optimal networking performance and chose GE Security’s VisioWave Intelligent Video Platform (IVP).  It handles more than 10,000 cameras on one  system with streaming and storage at different data rates. 

VisioWave consists of a series of hardware and software components,
including high-capacity, high-fps (frames per second) digital video
encoders, decoders and recorders, long-term central and distributed
storage devices and video operating software. Its Software Development
Kit (SDK) helps integrators incorporate the platform with other
security systems, including access control and intrusion. The Plug-in
Development Kit (PDK) allows developers to add video content analysis,
such as used for incident detection, intrusion monitoring or people

The security-over-IP VisioWave surveillance solution Pearson
airport chose provides a scalable security management system, designed
to meet current and future needs. Together with Visual Defence, GE
designed, developed, supplied and commissioned an integrated security
surveillance solution over IP.  This system is supported by an advanced
video management solution, designed to incorporate disparate security
solutions and create a cohesive, centralized management system.
VisioWave manages hundreds of fixed and pan-tilt-zoom analogue cameras
at Pearson and interfaces along with hundreds of analogue monitors and
PC workstations.

It also facilitates the optimized use of Pearson Airport’s Gigabit network, while providing good picture quality.
and complex digital video installations such as Pearson’s make it
difficult to know exactly how the system is performing, a major concern
for airports that cannot afford for their cameras to be offline.
Therefore, the VisioWave architecture is built to instantaneously
access all devices and automatically monitor performance.

To verify system health, the platform provides dynamic diagnostic
tools that allow for remote system monitoring and analysis. These tools
actually analyze and diagnose while the systems are running, during
maintenance or after a reboot.


The system is also embedded with advanced video content analysis
(VCA) software that analyzes video streams to alert users to displaced,
blocked or out of focus cameras, obstructed views or video loss.
The system itself checks for such things as:
”¢    Black frame detection
”¢    Low or noisy signal detection
”¢    Lens occlusion detection
”¢    Overexposure detection
”¢    Blur detection    
”¢    Camera displacement detection

What this means is that the system is automatically checking itself
for localized camera and other failures, alerting security personnel to
such issues before incidents occur.  As a result, maintenance of the
digital video security system leads to an easier, more optimized

Device monitoring capabilities even include the status of video
ports (inputs, outputs, connected, not connected), health of hard
drives, including any predictable failures, internal temperature of
device, temperature of hard drives, fan speed, network statistics,
activity and errors, network traffic (IP unicast, IP multicast and
asynchronous, transfer Mode — ATM), and statistics on connected network
interfaces (Ethernet and ATM).

With such applications activated, detection of video devices
dysfunctions becomes easier and more preventive.  Security or
maintenance personnel is notified in real-time, or through a logging
system, of any trouble in the system.  This results in a faster and
easier reaction and therefore a better level of security and cost

As camera sites become increasingly networked with similar large IP
systems, such as at Pearson Airport, video surveillance becomes more
effective as a security tool and can be used to interrupt acts of crime
or aggression, not just record them.

If the goal is to detect incidents before they turn into a crisis,
airports can no longer afford passive video systems.  Who cares if you
catch the bad guy after the fact, when you could have prevented the
loss of property or life in the first place?  In short, airports
realize that they can do much more than ever before with such a
streamlined, intelligent surveillance system. 

Now, platforms such as VisioWave IVP let airports and other complex
organizations add intelligence to their systems to detect incidents in
real-time—or even before they happen.  It’s the system itself that
“understands” scenes and sets off alarms when required conditions are

Advanced VCA software analyzes live or recorded video streams and
detects suspicious activities and events.  Embedded and third-party
plug-ins enable the following functions at such sprawling public
Ӣ Crowd management
Ӣ Forensics
Ӣ Left object/removed object
Ӣ Motion detection
Ӣ People counting
Ӣ Perimeter/intrusion detection
Ӣ Smoke detection
Ӣ Suspicious behavior detection
Ӣ Traffic law enforcement
Ӣ Waiting line measure
Ӣ Wrong way movement detection
 New video analytics are always on the horizon.  For instance, in high
threat facilities, many organizations want video analytics that can
track people and objects.  

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