Lakeland Regional Gains Maintenance Support by Integrating with City's Security System

Nicole Nelson
Published in: 

Until recently, Nan Walsh was concerned about the "security of the security" at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), a Part 139 facility in a particularly lake-dotted portion of central Florida. As assistant director of LAL, Walsh felt that the dated, stand-alone security system the airport had been using had "reliability issues." And that was putting it diplomatically.

Alan Lee, security and safety systems supervisor for the city of Lakeland, described the antiquated system as, "basically a work station with no backup capabilities."

Project: Integrating with City's Security Platform
Location: Lakeland (FL) Linder Regional Airport 
Key Stakeholders: City of Lakeland, Florida Dept. of Transportation
Platform: Genetec Security Center
Installation/Maintenance: SiteSecure
Project Cost: $350,000 (including optic cable)
Funding: $350,000 Security Grant from FL Dept. of Transportation
Project Timeline: Aug. 2014-March 2016
Key Benefits: New resources for system maintenance; supports compliance with security requirements for upcoming commercial service

Not surprisingly, airport personnel were growing increasing weary about using and maintaining the outmoded system. Airport officials were further motivated to change by the prospect of adding commercial service. Such traffic changes would mean federalized passenger screening and associated requirements for system access and maintenance requirements from TSA and the Department of Homeland Security. Inspired to tackle such issues, the airport began working with city governance and eventually converted to the Genetec Security Center, which was already being used by 53 other sister sites within the city of Lakeland.  

"We were having a lot of issues with that (previous) system," Walsh recalls, noting that airport property was secure, but the system's reliability shortcomings came at a steep cost. "It was an older system and it was difficult to get any support as a smaller department. Maintaining that wasn't necessarily economical for us anymore."

These concerns were put to rest in August 2014, when officials agreed to fully convert to Genetec's Security Center platform and align LAL with the rest of Lakeland's citywide system. 

A $350,000 security grant from the Florida Department of Transportation assisted with the purchase and installation of the new system, and also covered the cost of installing miles of fiber optic cable to all of the airport's security gates and several buildings.

"We have fully implemented the system and are using all of its attributes right now, including security cameras, gate doors and all the other different functions that the system comes with," Walsh reports. "It was a slow rollout as far as integrating the old hardware with the new system. We had to change over from the previous system into this system and then as we constructed fiber and were able to bring gates online, we slowly transferred them over to new hardware."

Last to the Party
LAL was slow to convert to the Genetec platform because personnel needed to verify that the system would meet all of its airport-specific needs. 

Starting with the water utility department in 2004, the city had been instituting a more robust and reliable IP-based security system to help its departments take advantage of the growing fiber infrastructure throughout the city. By 2007, the goal to expand the standardized system across all local organizations and upgrade to IP access control in various buildings was largely standardized through Genetec's Security Center, a unified security platform with video surveillance, access control and automatic license plate recognition systems. 

"We were actually the last department in the city to integrate," Walsh says of the $350,000 project. "We wanted to make sure that the system was going to operate to its full capability prior to us changing over."

The airport officially agreed to convert its access control system to Genetec in August 2014, and staff and administrator training began a few months later in October. In December 2014, work crews began installing fiber optic cable around the airport, and system installation and hardware conversion was underway by early 2015. Cardholders and access rights then officially transferred to Genetec and the slow rollover of systems began. The conversion process was completed by June 2015, and the system build-out (additional gates, doors, and cameras added to the system) wrapped up this March. 

The aviation department worked with the city to compartmentalize and partition the system, and put specific protocols in place to separate sensitive aviation security access from the wider city system. In short, LAL's objective was to prevent non-authorized personnel from altering elements regarding airport security.

"We had to ensure that the airport portion of the system was isolated from the rest of the city," explains LAL Operations Supervisor Adam Lunn. "Partitioning the airport within Genetec allowed us to isolate our security parameters and access media from others within the city system. This eliminated the potential for those outside the airport from modifying them."

The extra steps taken to bring Genetec's Security Center online at the airport were worth the wait, and the reliability of the new system has been "phenomenal," reports Walsh. 

In addition, the airport now has multiple sources to help resolve issues if they arise: the city's information technology facilities, Genetec and SiteSecure, the security integrator that installed and now maintains the system for the city. In total, SiteSecure manages 650 cameras and more than 450 doors.

"We have a lot more support now," notes Walsh.

According to Lunn, the most attractive feature of the Genetec conversion is the expandability of an already extensive system. The city has continued to make LAL a priority, bringing additional access gates, doors and cameras online as recently as March.

"The city contract with SiteSecure and Genetec greatly enhances the support we have for our system," says Lunn. "This system provides the airport with the reliability and expandability needed to meet the demands of current and future airport users." 

Because LAL is not currently federalized, the airport complies with state DOT security guidelines. However, the airport is also working closely with TSA in anticipation of future commercial airline service.

"We wanted to ensure that whatever system we implemented was or would be approved by (federal aviation agencies)," Lunn explains, noting that all correspondence with TSA regarding the Genetec security system has been positive.


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