Christmas Airport Breaches Highlight Importance of Wide Area Surveillance Technology

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With the two recent Christmas Day security breaches, airport perimeter safety both domestically and abroad are called into question. HGH Infrared Systems' Spynel cameras could be an effective solution.

"With Spynel, you are able to explore and investigate every alarm, in all directions simultaneously. No more soda straw effect, no need for dozens of CCTV cameras. One system for the whole mission”, said Josh Howlett Sales Manager for HGH Infrared Systems

Christmas Day 2013-in two separate incidences at two busy international airports in the US- two men successfully scaled the barbed wire, high-security perimeter fences and landed on runways, raising concerns about security measures at our nation’s major airports.

In the east coast incident at Newark International Airport a man hopped the fence, undetected by the Port Authority’s costly perimeter protection system, then crossed over two runways to reach a terminal before being discovered by an airline worker. Later in the day at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, another man, showing signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, climbed a nine-foot high fence and ran onto the tarmac waving his arms at an arriving plane before running away and being captured by authorities. The security systems at both airports failed to detect any sign of a trespasser and this is not the first breach for the Phoenix airport (with recent incidences in 2005 and 2012) or another NY-area airport (with the same system failing to detect a breach at JFK Airport in 2012).

These two most recent breaches call to attention the growing problems with airport security and the urgency to correct them. Currently, the Transportation Security Administration does not require airports to maintain full-time surveillance of their perimeter fences, often relying solely on security personnel and dozens of cameras around the facility. One solution to this unreliable system could be HGH Infrared System’s unique rotating, panoramic, infrared thermal imaging cameras with automatic tracking and intrusion detections. Spynel cameras continuously monitor ultra-wide field of view to produce a real-time, high-resolution image, ensuring that no event is missed even over extremely large areas in total darkness and inclement weather conditions.

“Spynel’s unique ability to provide both an alarm on the intrusion as well as a HD thermal image on the alarm effectively simplifies the operator’s mission in surveillance of very long perimeters. Additionally, airports pose an almost impossible environment to monitor with motion, ground and vibration sensors due to the extremely busy nature of ground traffic and operations onsite. With Spynel, you are able to explore and investigate every alarm, in all directions simultaneously. No more soda straw effect, no need for dozens of CCTV cameras. One system for the whole mission,” said Josh Howlett Sales Manager for HGH Infrared Systems North America.

In spite of important equipment upgrades after 9/11, airport perimeter security still remains a challenge both domestically and internationally. A few days ago, German tourists drove their rental car through a checkpoint beyond a perimeter fence at Glasgow Airport in Scotland. It may be time for security officials here and abroad to consider innovative solutions, such as Spynel, to solve ongoing problems that traditional technologies can’t tackle effectively.


Founded in 1982, HGH designs, develops, assembles and sells complete high end optronics systems for security, industrial and civil applications. HGH’s team of highly qualified engineers is comprised of experts in optics, software, mechanics and electronics and operates in the US, out of Boston, MA. HGH strives to provide advanced and innovative infrared equipment to protect their clients all around the world, while keeping the agility and dedication of a small and passionate team. Speed, flexibility, technical excellence and innovation constitute their core values. HGH has established itself as an international reference for infrared technology innovation through the development of multiple advanced thermal sensors, among which its award-winning real-time 360 degree thermal camera, the Spynel-C - 2008 Product of the Year from Photonics Tech Briefs, 2010 Innovation Prize from the EuroNaval Committee, 2011 Kummerman Award from the French Academy of Marine, 2012 GovSec Platinum Award, and 2012 Govies Homeland Security Award.

POC: Katie Shea, Katie.Shea(at)hgh-infrared(dot)com

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Katie Shea
HGH Infrared Systems

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