Arlington Airport installs new video surveillance system for security

ARLINGTON – More eyes are on Arlington Municipal Airport after the city this month installed a new state-of-the-art wireless video surveillance system to improve security and safety.

Last year, airport officials grew concerned after an uptick in crime in and around airport property, culminating in a rash of costly vandalism last November that damaged a rare plane, runway lights and left other property havoc. Reports of nearby homeless and drug activity have also been on the rise.

A new surveillance system “is something we’ve talked about for quite a while, but it was out of our price range,” City Administrator Paul Ellis said.

City Information Services manager Bryan Terry found a solution that is cost-effective and will generate high-resolution images and recorded video footage for airport staff and law enforcement. The quality is clear enough to capture a car license plate, and the night vision is impressive, too, they said.

IT staff and airport maintenance crews in-house installed the Ubiquiti Networks AirFiber-based network infrastructure, antennae, hardware, software and the camera system at a cost of $4,300. That’s a fraction of the cost of a hard cable installation that can run up to $100,000 or more, Terry said.

Terry sketched out a network that keeps the computer monitoring equipment housed in the airport office at one end of the demarcation point, and relay equipment at the centralized windsock at the other end, which provides line of sight to all the cameras.

The only downside to the system is it’s more prone to outages due to wind and other extreme weather conditions, and line of sight is a must – that includes birds who may find perch options on the new equipment irresistable. The system provides the means for police to obtain footage and screen grabs of suspicious activity.

From a safety standpoint, it will also allow airport staff to better monitor areas around the 1,189-acre property without always needing to drive to those locations.

Airport director Dave Ryan said airport tenants will benefit from the surveillance system. He thanked those who permitted staff to mount equipment on their buildings. Officials didn’t divulge how many cameras were installed, but the system can manage up to 50. at the airport office. The airport office wil add more in the future.

“This is a great new tool for us and for law enforcement,” Ryan said. “The camera system handles all the airport gates and points of entry where people might come in.”

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