Singapore's Changi Airport, is transforming itself into one of the world's first smart airports, with the help of Singapore integrator ST Electronics. In the initiative, dubbed Intelligent Airport, all aspects of Changi's operations from flight arrivals and departures to baggage handling and passenger movement will be tracked via sensors which feed data to a unified operations center. Data visualization and predictive analytics software, combined with real-time alerts sent to staff mobile devices, will increase airport management's ability to both predict and react to changing situations in the airport, including, of course, security incidents. Specific security incident management enhancements include:
- Smart fences, with sensors that can detect unusual movement around the airport property and direct cameras towards the event, which zoom in and create a live feed
- CCTV cameras with face recognition that can home in on evolving incidents, identify known actors (both friendly and hostile) and quickly direct security personnel to the scene.
The Intelligent Airport is in its early stages, and many details of the project have not been released publicly. You can get a bit more detail about it here in ST Electronics' Electronics Review (PDF download - scroll to page 22).
I'm sure that airports all over the world will be keeping a keen eye on this pioneering initiative, and it will be very interesting to see how the whole thing turns out. The promise of increased operational efficiencies and a more secure environment is great, although what's not yet clear is how much all this will cost, and the airport's ultimate return on investment.
It's not too surprising to see this happening first in Singapore, which has long been willing to invest in strategic infrastructure to keep its competitive economic edge. There's a defensive factor as well, with Middle Eastern airports like Qatar, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi making inroads into Changi's share of global air traffic. As a small city state, Singapore has to continually reinvent itself to stay viable. It's a tough hand to play, but the results are often impressive.