More cameras to keep eye on SFO 

The hawk-eyed security system at San Francisco International Airport, which has more than 1,300 cameras tracking travelers’ every move throughout the facility, will be honed further with a $5 million grant.

The airport has already added nearly 10 times the 150 security cameras it had a decade ago to monitor the airfield, roadways, terminals, baggage systems and security checkpoints. The recent funds, courtesy of the federal Transportation Security Administration, will add high-tech gadgetry to its Closed Circuit Television Advanced Surveillance Program.

The enhancements include installing more cameras in terminals, modernizing the control center that monitors airport facilities and adding a graphical user interface program that maps all the cameras at the airport and allows agents to more swiftly select any camera view they want.

The enhancements will increase surveillance capabilities and help security agents more quickly and efficiently respond to incidents, including suspicious items left unattended, airport officials said.

The airport’s CCTV system is one of the most effective in the nation, said Edward Gomez, federal security director for TSA. The system not only aids in the response to criminal activity but helps the airport operate more smoothly, he said.

The extra eye on security checkpoints deters theft by screeners or travelers and allows the control room to respond swiftly to broken machinery, to the need for more staffing or to anything else that might be slowing down the screening process, Gomez said.

“SFO starting putting this system in before 9/11,” he said. “All TSA is doing now is augmenting this system and making it more effective.”

SFO hopes to select a company to make the upgrades within three months. The contract would last for a year, they said.

“The airport will be reimbursed 100 percent of the cost,” officials said.

The TSA has been gradually ramping up its deployment of high-tech security systems since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as subsequent attacks and scares.

After the Christmas Day 2009 attempt to bomb an airliner as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam, President Barack Obama pledged more enhancements to the nation’s airport security intelligence and systems.

Since then, the TSA has been installing whole-body scanners at security checkpoints. Around 142 have already been installed nationwide, and the TSA plans to add hundreds more before the year’s end.

SFO has the whole-body system in its international terminal. In January, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he wanted the scanners in all domestic and international security checkpoints.

SFO security by the numbers

150: Security cameras at SFO
10 years ago
1,000-plus: Security cameras at SFO
142: Whole-body scanners installed at U.S. airports
450: More whole-body scanners to be installed nationwide by year’s end

Source: SFO and TSA

Timeline of measures to increase SFO security

1992: Nation’s first biometric access control system is installed
1996: First explosive detection device baggage scanner is purchased and installed in old International Terminal
2000: Most technologically advanced security system of any airport in the nation is constructed in new International Terminal
2001: International Terminal becomes world’s first to have 100 percent in-line explosive-detection systems
2002: Baggage security is enhanced by creating central screening room
2003: Installation of more than 1,000 high-resolution digital cameras throughout airport begins
2003: State-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center opens
2004: One-of-a-kind Security Control Center for use by TSA in its management of all airport security checkpoints opens
2008: One of 19 airports to receive whole-body-imager screening system
2009: Uses $5 million grant to enhance security camera system

Source: San Francisco International Airport

maldax@sfexaminer.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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