by Paul F. Roberts

Boston’s Logan Airport Uses Thermal Imaging to Boost Security

Jul 01, 20032 mins
IT Strategy

In the control tower at Logan International Airport, an oversized computer monitor shows the airport tarmac below as it appears through the eye of a thermal imaging camera. It is a landscape of muted grays punctuated by the white of an engine’s exhaust as a small passenger jet taxis to a terminal.

The thermal imaging camera and the software that runs it are part of a new test program to find technology that toughens the airport’s security by automatically detecting intruders, according to Dennis Treece, director of corporate security for the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the state agency that runs Logan.

The source of two flights involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Boston’s Logan has become an early adopter of security technology, installing new baggage-screening systems and testing biometric authentication systems.

The system couples VistaScape Software’s Security Data Management System, billed as physical security integration software, with infrared cameras from Flir Systems. The VistaScape software analyzes a video image stream from the cameras atop Logan’s control tower. Abnormal movements or objects show up on a PC screen as potential threats. While guarding against the remote threat posed by terrorists, the cameras will help Massport stay on top of more mundane intruders such as graffiti artists and, possibly, rats in some of the tunnels beneath the airport.

“This is designed to save man power, saving us from having soldiers or police line up shoulder to shoulder along the beach,” Treece says.