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With the latest security technology getting increasingly costly, Florida is preparing a test for what appears to be the nation's first video surveillance system to be networked across several airports.
The "General Aviation Airport Security Project" will start sometime next year, linking the video surveillance systems at four airports, including three general aviation (GA) facilities and a small commercial airport, Tallahassee Regional (THL). The project's intended focus is on GA airports because the unmet need there is seen as particularly substantial.
The project might be a harbinger of how more airport security systems are designed, by pooling resources and sharing expensive outlays across a great number of sites, while tailoring some features to meet individual facilities' needs. In addition, the idea behind the Florida project eventually may be extended to other transport modes at ports or rail stations, to intermodal transportation sites, or to other types of public facilities.
The nearly $1 million state-funded video surveillance system is the first major project of the two-month-old Florida Aviation Test Center, which in fact will serve as the data hub for the project. The center was created by the state Department of Transportation's (DOT) aviation office. Officials there and with the center believe that the idea for the project, as well as having such a state-supported aviation testing center, are both firsts in the nation.
The center will serve mostly as a "clearinghouse" for new aviation technology, and not just for security, says center Director Richard Duley. With so many competing video systems already on the market, the state felt it was time to help airports by vetting some of the most promising technology. "We're trying to be proactive," he says. Part of the idea also was to provide some taxpayer accountability before making large-scale investments of public funds.