Friday, October 23, 2015

GroundAware: New airport system can detect breach 
without monitoring • Grand Junction Regional (KGJT), Mesa County, Colorado

Grand Junction Regional Airport’s new security system will rely on an unblinking eye watching its designated area night and day, in snow and in sun.

The GroundAware radar system by Huntsville, Alabama-based Dynetics “basically stares at an area constantly,” said Tom Gates, business-development manager for GroundAware.

The Transportation Security Administration has approved the airport’s plans to install the GroundAware system and at some point remove the gates that have prevented the general public from getting into the aeronautical businesses on airport property, as well as an aviation-related museum.

The system combines a range of surveillance equipment, including cameras and global-positioning systems, but ground radar is at its heart, scanning a given area eight times a second, Gates said,

“It can in real time detect moving objects, human and animal, vehicles and aircraft, even drones, classify them and then provide information” about the movements of the objects to security officials by text, email or other means who can make further decisions, Gates said.

There will be no need for a bank of security staff watching screens because the system is set up to alert officials if it detects an intruder or questionable activity in what are termed “alarm zones,” Gates said.

A GroundAware sensor can cover a 120-degree field of view as far as three kilometers, he said.

The system can track intruders across airport property, and direct officials to them using Google Maps and standard web browsers.

“It’s intended to be as human-free as possible,” Gates said.

The company already has tested the system at the Grand Junction airport during the winter and found that cold and blowing snow had no effect on it, Gates said.

GroundAware already has been used by utilities to monitor installations such as electricity substations and the Grand Junction installation will be a showpiece for the company.

Grand Junction officials “pushed us technologically” to develop the ability of the system to classify the objects it detects in alarm zones, Gates said.

The GroundAware sensor box weighs about 45 pounds and can be installed in a morning, Gates said. The airport has $200,000 budgeted for the system this year and was to begin contract negotiations with Dynetics in the coming weeks.

The weakness of other ground-level radar systems is that they are unable to discriminate among various objects, resulting in false alarms.

With GroundAware, the goal is to have as few alarms as possible while not missing “the ones I want to know about,” Gates said.

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