Thales builds security
in airport ops centers
By Jeff Yapalater
Thales is a world leader in a wide range of security technology and operations command centers across the globe. As part of its services, it consults and builds airport operations centers worldwide.
Given the complexities of the modern airport that may consist of multiple terminal operators and airlines, it is important to coordinate or crate centralize operations for improved communication, a decision making and collaborative actions.
David Scruggs, Thales VP, presented the Kaamco Security Committee with an overview of operations center around the world and the ways in which these commands become the nerve center of the airport. Thales’s experience has proven that these centers are needed to respond to everyday logistical operations to the unexpected event, and have procedures and people in place to handle these with efficiency and collaboration.
To this end, JFK Airport has recently launched such a center, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). According to Mike Moran, GM of JFK, there will be a seat for everyone at the table”. This “seating” would include every state and federal agency, airline and terminal personnel and every important company servicing the airport .At this time the JFKEOC is convened on as an needed basis anticipating problems such as weather or when emergencies occur but is going fully operational 24/7 in a couple of months. This type of airport response center will handle emergencies ranging from weather to extreme public safety issues..
Scruggs describes the variety of operations centers from Security Ops ( SOC) to Joint Ops ( JOC) to Emergency Ops (EOC) and Airport ops (AOC) . Depending on the nature of the airport there may be one overarching AOC, working together with a string of SOCs (like JFK where there are 5 terminal operators) or a combination of OCs. The main objective is to have “information to the right people at the right time. Emergencies need people within physical proximity to talk with each other and collaborate”, he stressed. “People need transparency with who is doing what, right now”.
Thales is working with one JFK terminal operators to bring an SOC into operation within the next month. This will be one center which will handle the terminal’s needs when security issues arise. He referred to another SOC’s success in reducing response time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes due to the established chain of command and efficiency of blending technology and people together. In some cases large airlines have their own operations centers such as Delta, he said. The key however, is to have a communication thread connecting all these centers to provide information from end-to-end whether it be planes transits, or emergency responses. “It have to move from a silo mentality” to a collaborative effort he said.
Money is often a major factor in building an operations center said Scruggs. It is not tens of millions of dollars to build meld infrastructure, technology, business and safety together he remarked. But, with the growth of numbers of people traveling, airport building, development of such centers is important to maintain the business of flying while keeping the flying public safe.