Lest We Forget


Compiled by Faruq Bostaman

Closed circuit TV system for airport

Robin ALP

DECEMBER 15, 1979 – Anyone going to Brunei International Airport should behave – the chances are they’re being watched.

Whether they know it or not, airport users are on television. One of many cameras now operating at the terminal is looking down on them.

But this is no latent sporting contest. It’s a serious security surveillance operation.

A BND1.5 million closed circuit television system is being used by airport police – and the cameras dotted about the entire area would be the envy of many a major TV company.

The system is giving Brunei’s airport international standard safeguards against most possible emergencies.

A general view of the police control room at the Brunei International Airport; with their video cameras, police officers can monitor everything going on within the airfield boundary
ABOVE & BELOW: A television camera scans the airport perimeter day and night, the cameras cover all the airfield and work as well at night as they do during the day; and a communications staff officer, Divisional Superintendent of Police Lim Pang Kit with the aircraft movements board in the main control room

The cameras are monitored and operated round the clock from a central control rooms. They can continually scan their own areas or zoom in on any particular item the police want to scrutinise. These cameras give just as clear a picture by night as they do by day.

Their locations have been designed to cover all sensitive or vulnerable areas within the airport complex.

They are also designed to overlap each other so that, if necessary, two cameras can give different viewpoints of an object being examined.

Divisional Superintendent of Police Lim Pang Kit, a communications staff officer, demonstrated how they can be tilted or angled by the operators to keep a watch on everything from the instrument landing system to the shell depots or the airport apron.

Pictures are beamed back to the screens in the control room either via a microwave system (with the antenna mounted on the roof of a police station building), or through ground cables.

The entire monitoring console is simple to watch, easy to use. Operators can keep cameras on automatic scan or zoom in closely they can recognise the ground staff, passengers boarding an aircraft and even individual pilots and crew.

A supervisor can flash quick shots from every camera on a screen in front of him, or select one camera at a time to watch at length. The date and time is automatically shown on each screen, with monitors watching to screens side by side at a time.

One of the screens shows a rapid sequence from all cameras, with the picture switching from one camera to another every 15 seconds.

The other screen is used to select and hold a particular camera the operator wants to watch.

These pictures are automatically related to the supervisor’s separate screens to give a double check on everything that appears.

DSP Lim said the entire system is specifically aimed at being flexible to meet different demands and tasks.

The whole console is manned by four policeman or policewomen at one time, who operate the cameras on six-hour shifts. A sergeant and two constables monitor the screens, with the fourth person used on a rotation basis to give everyone frequent rests.

There are also two videotape machines which can record any segment of film so it can be played back later on the screen.

A flight movement board in the police control room enables the operators and monitors to see at a glance where the planes outside the window are going, or have come from.

The most vital factor to the success of the entire operation is communications and these are the most efficient possible in the control room.

A communications console enables the supervisor to reach everyone necessary straight away, with “Hot lines” to places like the control tower and airport fire brigade.

Telephone and radio links can reach police headquarters in seconds, as well as foot and vehicle police patrols always on duty at the airport. The supervisor can not only patch in to his own police circuits, but also the aviation network through radio links. Every call made from the control room can be taped in a “memory bank” and played back later if needed.