New Security Equipment for Houston Airports

Thanks to a $3.5 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security, both Houston airports are getting "state of the art" radar and video equipment to watch their perimeters and protect the airport property.

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Hobby Airport is fairly easy to watch because it's inside the city with residential areas all around, but Bush is harder because most of its 30 mile perimeter is heavily wooded. The City Aviation Department is buying a system that combines ground radar with an advanced video cameras and processing, which Security Chief Mark Mancuso says can be programmed to tell when someone outside the property is trying to get in.

"Depending on the area of the airport and the sensitivity of that area, we're able to write rules into the system that will allow us to be alerted on direction of movement and travel, speed and distance. And from all those characteristics, you could surmise intent."

Bush airport will also get walk-through scanners to detect traces of explosives on passengers' clothing and skin. Mancuso says this device is called a "puffer."

"When you walk through, a blast of air, or a puff of air, will kind of ruffle your clothing and there will be airborne particulates. It then samples those airborne particulates for trace elements of explosives, much like the machines do at the checkpoints."

Mancuso says the new indoor and outdoor security measures should be up and working by June.

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