Airport reinforces its security system with biometric readers and contactless smart cards



HID Global, Irvine, CA, USA


AICM and access control

As a tour ist and commercial gateway to the country, the International Airport of Mexico City (AICM) plays a vital role in the development of Mexico’s economy, ensuring the prosperity and global accessibility of this burgeoning nation.

The AICM is Latin America’s busiest airport, and one of the world’s 30 most active airports in terms of passengers, operations and cargo. Located six miles east of Mexico City, the airport is Mexico’s primary international and domestic hub, with direct flights to more than 300 worldwide destinations. The airport boasts an  impressive array of modern facilities including restaurants, shops, hotel reservation desks, tourist information, ATMs, banks, foreign exchange, business facilities and a post office.

Further increasing the complexity of the AICM’s operation, the airport is undergoing major construction work, including building new concourses and a new terminal (Terminal 2). Once built, the new facilities are expected to increase airport passenger capacity by nearly 50 per cent. This will enable the airport to handle an additional 16 million passengers per year, up from the current 32 million travelers who pass through.

But with all this activity, the issue of access control is a key consideration. With nearly 340,000 flights in a year, and about 20,000 staff on site, the AICM has significant access control requirements. As a regional leader, the AICM turned to HID Global, a leading manufacturer in the access control industry, to help address its needs.

Layers of security

Preventing terrorist attacks and protecting the domestic and global transportation network, transportation security is a critical mission for any airport. One way airports have effectively provided traveler security is by setting up security layers to protect airline passengers. The layers include security measures like airport checkpoints, canine searches, air marshals, luggage inspection and explosive material detection. Each layer of protection, on its own, is capable of preventing terrorist attacks; together, the layers’ security value is exponentially higher, creating a much stronger overall security system. Another omnipresent layer of airport security is access control. Controlling access to key airport functions is a critical security task. Given the size, amenities and complexity of the AICM, controlling access to areas can be a huge task.

Access control needs

When it was time for the AICM to consider a system upgrade, Manager of Airport Identification, Enrique De la Mora, a member of AICM’s security staff, worked with integrator Ernesto Ibarra from IR Systems S.A. de C.V. to define the scope of AICM’s access control needs. In evaluating various offerings, the airport’s security was dependent on the following considerations: Size and Complexity: With AICM’s size, amenities and complexity, controlling access to restricted areas would be a massive undertaking.

Multi-factor Authentication: Concerned with vandalism and identity theft, the airport identified that it would need some type of multi-factor authentication to maintain strict access control to restricted areas like VIP rooms and operations areas. AICM management had to ensure that the ‘right’ people would get in, but the ‘wrong’ people would be kept out.  Secure Credentials: Significant authentication capabilities were needed at the credential level. The credentials chosen by the airport would need to be counterfeit-proof, ensuring the integrity of the card issuance process.

Scalable Solution: Credential issuance would also need to be a fluid, yet secure, process. The credential issuance procedure would have to be scalable to address new locations and employee status. With the expected opening of a new terminal, AICM management wanted to ensure that it would only need to provide badges for each employee once, for all facilities.

Latest Technology: De la Mora and AICM were ready to upgrade to the latest technology. “We have been using an integrated 125 kHz proximity-based access control system, powered by HID cards and readers, since 1998. The AICM decided the time and needs were right to move ahead to the most advanced, best-of-class system,” commented De la Mora. Having determined those needs and rationale, the AICM turned to HID Global for its innovative applications of technology and  expertise. To address its missioncritical requirements, AICM management determined that cards and readers from HID Global were the right solution.

The new solution in place

Based on its scope evaluation and previous experience with HID Global products, AICM felt secure in purchasing access control hardware. AICM set up a new access control system based around the V-Smart iCLASS access control readers and 16k bit (2k Byte) contactless smart cards.

The equipment, supplied by Bioscrypt and HID, requires biometric authentication in addition to identity verification for card carriers to gain access to restricted areas. The fingerprint readers include HID iCLASS® 13.56 MHz read/write contactless smart card technology, to manage access to restricted sites within the airport, like VIP rooms and operations areas.

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