Access Advances

East Midlands Airport decided to upgrade its security management system earlier this year. (All images – CEM Systems)

Airport security leaps forward as staff welcome a new system upgrade at East Midlands Airport, UK. Caroline Cook reports.

East Midlands Airport decided to upgrade its security management system earlier this year. (All images – CEM Systems)

Serving more than 4.5 million passengers per year and 90 destinations around the world, East Midlands Airport (EMA) is anything but quiet.  Operated by Manchester Airports Group, the airport has thousands of staff and passengers moving through its terminal each day.  So it comes as no surprise that EMA decided to upgrade its security management system earlier this year.  The CEM Systems AC2000 integrated system was replaced by its latest version, which includes PicoPass smart card validation and CEM intelligent IP card readers.
The airport is the first in the UK to fully migrate to PicoPass technology, and during migration to the new system, it used Wiegand/PicoPass cards.  There are a total of 6,000 pass-holders at the airport, including airline staff and other third parties.  The cards are highly encrypted and offer sector storage for other applications, such as cashless vending, photocopy access and membership to clubs.
The airport’s Security Manager, John Doherty, told Airports International that the new system: “has moved us on.  It is connected via ethernet and allows us to install new card readers easily across the site.  The system is much easier to operate and maintain.
The portable S3030 readers also display the card user’s photograph along with their information.

“We have the opportunity to add a lot more to this system.  Initially, we will use it for access control, but looking forward, we see the potential to add so much more.  This was one of the key areas that helped us to decide to upgrade.”
The system has the potential to be used for audit control.  For example, if a handling agent uses one of the check-in desks, the AC2000 will log the personnel details and the duration of use, meaning that the data can be analysed.  Essentially, Mr Doherty explains, the IP cards can be used in such a wide range of functions in this manner, that they could be seen as operating keys.
The cards can even be used for simple functions, such as printing from common-use machinery and accessing the staff car parks and offices.
Moving Forward
The upgraded system has proven to be more cost-effective.  Previously, EMA personnel had to swipe their cards repeatedly to gain access to certain parts of the airport.  The damage caused by swiping led to the costly replacement of the passes, to ensure compliance with Department for Transport (DfT) regulations.  However, the new system connects to the cards via proximity, meaning that no contact is made, and therefore no damage incurred.
The new card readers, which utilise ‘smart’ technology similar to that used in the latest mobile phones, are smaller and more flexible than their predecessors.  “Our technical team tells us that they are easier to install and easier to work with,” said Mr Doherty.  “We can add new readers to different areas far more readily.  From the team’s point of view, it is more flexible and quite an advance on the previous system.”
The team installed 66 S610e IP card readers and two S3030 portable readers.  The stationary readers are posted at critical access points throughout the airport, which are also manned by security guards.  Their LCD screens provide staff with instant feedback from the system and they also have keypads, meaning that passholders can be issued with a PIN code for extra security.  The S610e readers have an internal database, ensuring their continued performance should the connection to the server fail.
The 66 S610e readers are posted at critical access points throughout the airport, which are also manned by security guards.

The S3030 portable readers will be taken on patrol around the airfield to check staff cards spontaneously.  Their full-colour TFT touchscreen can show card user information for visual verification, including name, date of birth, job title and permitted access zones and times.  The S3030 readers also display the card user’s photograph.  Mr Doherty commented:  “With the addition of the display panels on the portable readers, when compared to the old version, they are quite a leap forward in   technology for us.”
The previous system at EMA had been in place for more than 15 years and Mr Doherty hopes that the upgrade will also stand the test of time, adding that its versatility will ensure it can evolve alongside the business.
The system can also be connected to CCTV surveillance cameras around the facility.  Although this has not yet been done at EMA, Mr Doherty explained that the airport would definitely look into it for the future.  He concluded:  “The fact that the technical team is singing its praises says a lot about the system and the airport can clearly see countless advances for the future.”