Airport to Test Various Security Devices


Southwest Florida Int’l Airport is one of the first two airports chosen by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to test emerging security technology, the Lee County Port Authority announced this week.

The airport south of Fort Myers and Dulles Int’l in Washington, D.C., are the first of 20 facilities to be named as test sites for the Airport Access Control Program. Seventy-five of the nation’s 429 commercial airports applied.

Chosen airports will test and evaluate such security solutions as iris, face, voice, fingerprint or hand scanning, as well as security door detection systems, advanced video processing, digital CCTV monitoring, and the integration of new and existing technologies.

Robert Ball, local airport director, said he’ll ask the security agency to bring technology that can be put through its paces away from current passengers and the 20-year-old terminal. Other areas ripe for emerging technology include: systems to identify and admit airport workers and vehicles to the airport’s apron or runways; to ensure only authorized people and vehicles enter air cargo facilities; or to screen vehicles and employees entering security-sensitive general aviation areas at the airport.

“Right now, we have guards at the access points,” Ball said. Ultimately he’d like to see a “multi-layered system” that might combine something along the lines of fingerprint scanning, a “smart card,” detailing the background of the person or vehicle, and possibly an access code.

Ball expects a team of agency officials and equipment manufacturers will visit within the next five months to decide which technology would be best for testing at Southwest Florida Airport. He said it’s possible that some of that technology might be acquired for the new terminal, which is scheduled to open in 2005.

It’s not known what security technology Southwest Florida International Airport will test.

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