The company will invest R80 million to safeguard airports.The Airports Company of SA (ACSA) is to spend R80 million to upgrade
perimeter security at a number of South African airports.
ACSA operations director Bongani Maseko says the company must still make a final decision on the technology to be employed.
“We have gone out on tender for what is called a perimeter intrusion detection system, and that is a system that is going to be deployed around the perimeter of an airport to detect if someone is trying to jump over the fence,” Maseko explains.
A recent report by researcher Frost & Sullivan says airport perimeter security technology normally includes physical fence lines, closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, intelligent video surveillance, command, control and communications (C3) centres, as well as interoperable network solutions.
In this instance, perimeter fencing is already in place and ACSA is believed to be looking for an ICT solution.
“We are going to do so at OR Tambo International Airport (ORT) in the main because of the valuables we process, but we are also doing it in Port Elizabeth, East London and Cape Town because of the number of informal settlements we have around those airports. So, while it is a security measure, it is also a safety measure to prevent children from getting hurt on our runways,” Maseko adds.
The report says the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in the US caused a global boom in spending on airport perimeter security technology.
“Increased efforts to protect critical airport infrastructure [since September 2001] have led to increased budget allocations to combat security threats and protect airport perimeters,” the report notes. “Accordingly, a proactive approach is being adopted to install integrated security solutions that will be interoperable with new emerging technologies, as well as legacy security systems. Hence, large system integrators are making a foray into the security market and forging partnerships with smaller niche companies to offer airport operators greater benefits.
The perimeter still remains a vulnerable target for terrorism, which, as history has shown, is highly adaptable, the report notes. As a result, increased funds allocation is expected towards new technology and protection initiatives, especially in countries witnessing the largest influx of airline passengers.
While terrorism is currently not an overwhelming concern in SA, crime is. Cash-in-transit robbers and gangsters have in the past regularly targeted ORT. Media reports at the time suggested the robbers gained access to the airport because of poor access control, as well as poor perimeter security.
Then there is next year`s FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 Soccer World Cup – which could attract terrorists and will appeal to the criminal classes.