BMS at airports

October 2006 Integrated Solutions

In the transportation sector, points of ­international ingress and exit such as airports are especially vulnerable to ­security breaches and terrorist threats.

Following high profile attacks in the US and UK, among others, security at airports around the globe has been beefed up. The trend is to not only review processes and procedures, but to integrate related systems, centralise management, improve coordination and control, and cut costs.

Says Neil Cameron of Johnson Controls, a provider of integrated building management systems (BMS) to more than 14 airports, including Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth Airports, "It is not only the personal physical security of passengers and staff that is at stake at airports, but national and international security. Passenger screening, personnel identification, physical building management, and access rights to critical areas such as air control and aircraft operation are just some of the areas where security violations are likely. The key is to contain them - quickly. A BMS acts as the hub from which all of these systems can be synchronised and controlled."

In general terms, an airport is divided into the air operations area where aircraft operate, load and disembark cargo and passengers; and the rest of the airport, predominately the terminal, cargo and other buildings, and vehicle parking lots. Security in these areas - monitored and controlled by access solutions, CCTV cameras, fire and other alarm systems, and building automation systems, among others - is clearly interrelated. Integrated management systems are resultantly becoming critical to ensure a quick reaction to threats.

"It is important that airports can adjust or change their security systems rapidly, instantly reconfiguring them for high risk without shutting down the whole facility," says Cameron. "Johnson Controls' Cardkey access control system can enable different operation modes for threat levels 0 to 99. These modes can be preconfigured or adjusted on the spot without needing to shut down the entire security system or critical parts thereof.

"In the past," he explains, "each system functioned independently and airport would have to lift all controls in cases of disaster. For example, in the case of a fire breaking out, the airport may have had to lift all access limitations, unlocking all doors to ensure people could move to areas of safety. This brings its own hazards. Today, the BMS can go into 'fire' mode, identifying and isolating crises areas through alerts from fire and other alarm systems, changing access rights accordingly to enable safe passage away from danger areas, and using the link between the alarm and CCTV systems to pinpoint critical views and enable control room supervision of the situation to resolution."

Intelligent building management

"Business environments can no longer be viewed as simple physical settings. The relationship between space, people, process and technology must be viewed holistically," says Cameron.

The cost of these integrated systems can be slightly higher on first install but quickly pay for themselves. "The lifecycle costs are lower, users can do more with their systems, have to deal with fewer independent contractors and have better control of their environments," notes Cameron.

For airports in particular a big win has been in energy savings. "The BMS is interfaced to the flight information display system and provides the opportunity to save energy and enhance traveller comfort by controlling fresh air intake, heating, cooling and lighting automatically in accord with arrivals and departures." This has also been enabled at Cape Town International Airport locally.

"The BMS can also provide data such as which gates are in use and how many passengers are slated for a given space at a given time," says Cameron. "Based on that, we can manipulate heating and lighting in response to passenger movements." Lighting can also be adjusted or switched off automatically based on natural lighting levels, building schedules, flight information and other factors.

At Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii this system reduced energy costs by $1 million a year. At Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario, Canada, the programme saved an estimated $1 million in electricity in 2004 and a further $1,5 million in 2005.

The same high levels of automated functionality can be applied to other systems, such as fire alarms. The heat, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) system responds automatically to alarms, pressurising stairwells, shutting off fans and evacuating smoke in appropriate areas. As the alarm corrected, systems return to normal operation in a programmed sequence, preventing sudden power draws.

Integration with Metasys will also tell staff the status of power walks, escalators and elevators. Fault diagnostics help technicians decide whether a device that has shut down can be safely restarted or should first have a mechanical inspection. The system also monitors and reports the status of pumps and variable-frequency fan drives, triggering alarms and identifying faults.

The integration of all systems allows airport personnel to easily monitor and control all electronic security devices from stations throughout the airport. "The flexibility of the system puts useful, realtime information at the fingertips of the relevant people. This is not only efficient and convenient, it also helps them keep the airport more secure," says Cameron. "This system makes it much easier to first recognise a breach, then react immediately to avoid travel delays and potential emergencies."

On airport construction or refurbishment projects Johnson Controls has worked directly with construction managers, architects, mechanical and electrical engineers and security consultants to provide critical low-voltage systems. Cameron concludes: "Our goal is to offer solutions that benefit travellers, airport personnel and the bottom line. We are able to interface our solutions into current or outdated systems to facilitate continued use of existing components in order to maximise cost efficiency. As security needs grow and industry requirements evolve, our system ensures airports can continue to meet demands with confidence."

For more information contact Neil Cameron, Johnson Controls, +27 (0) 11 438 1600,

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