People heading in the right direction out an exit are monitored by a new security system Tuesday at the Portland International Jetport.
PORTLAND — A cutting-edge automated security system goes on line today at the Portland International Jetport, one of only two such systems in the country that can determine what direction people are walking and sound an alarm if they're going the wrong way.
The new technology is designed to replace a security guard who monitors the exit area from the secure jetport concourse to make sure nobody tries to slip in through the exit.
When that happens -- and it has happened at other airports -- it's a major headache, said jetport Director Paul Bradbury, who demonstrated the system at a jetport news conference Tuesday.
Under post-9/11 security requirements, everyone has to be removed from the secure area to be rescreened, and airplanes that have just departed from the concourse must return and have passengers disembark for another check.
"We don't want to go through all of the screening just to have someone bring prohibited items through the back door," Bradbury said.
The new equipment cost about $415,000 and has been installed as part of a terminal expansion, he said. The airport spends about $106,000 a year on staffing and overtime to secure the exit area, so the payback is about four years, Bradbury said.
The system also is arguably more effective than security guards, who can get tired or miss things if distracted, he said. The machine is never distracted. And during a demonstration at the jetport Tuesday, officials rolled a golf ball along the floor that the machine's video analytics identified as an object going in through the out door, setting off an audible warning and alerting security and police.
The machine also records the exit area so officials can see what set off the alarm.
To accommodate the new system, the exit doors are now translucent and the exit area brightly lit. That's because the machine is so sensitive it will pick up shadows that appear to be an object moving the wrong way, Bradbury said.
The Exit Lane Breach Control Containment System was installed by Tyco Integrated Security.
The new system covers the main exit area near baggage claim. An exit near the screening area is staffed by the Transportation Security Administration, although the federal agency has indicated it wants responsibility for that exit to shift to the airport, Bradbury said.
The Philadelphia airport is the only other airport so far that has the new system, although a similar system is in place in Seattle/Tacoma in Washington state, Bradbury said.
Other airports are expected to install the system in 2014.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: