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Boston Herald, May 14, 2003

Cameras help track intruders at Logan

by Doug Hanchett
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Massport officials are testing a high-tech perimeter security system at Logan International Airport that uses thermal-imaging cameras to detect intruders and then send live feeds of their furtive movements to handheld computers carried by state police.

Dubbed the "perfect security guard'' by officials at VistaScape, the system is the latest groundbreaking initiative at Logan.

"The eyeballs are always on (the perimeter), except it doesn't blink,'' said Glenn McGonnigle, VistaScape's president and CEO.

Dennis Treece, Massport's director of corporate security, said he's been impressed with the month-long trial. "It's pretty amazing stuff,'' he said.

Treece said aviation concerns prohibit Massport from ringing Logan with security fences. And the new system will help free up state police at Logan – some of whom will soon be carrying submachine guns – from the "`drudgery'' of patroling the perimeter of the airport.

"The security we have out there is cumbersome and not the best use of (state police) patrols,'' said Treece. "It's expensive to station guards out there, plus it's boring . . . (we should) let these cameras do this (work). They don't get cold, they don't call in sick, they don't have to go to their daughter's soccer game.''

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Legislature instituted a 500-foot buffer zone around the airport. Aside from specially permitted clamdiggers, anyone coming within 250 feet can be arrested.

VistaScape's perimeter security system – done in conjunction with the Billerica-based FLIR Systems Inc. – is the fifth tested by Massport. The agency will put a contract for such a system out to bid this summer, though VistaScape seems to have made quite an impression.

"They've all been similar,'' said Treece. "But I think it's fair to say visually they haven't been as exciting as this.''

Treece said he's looking for a system that can provide a "forensic-quality photograph of a human on the beach.''

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