Air Force, AT&T sensor network protects bases

The Air Force is working with AT&T to assess an emerging wireless network able to use infrared sensors and cell phone technology to detect intrusions on the perimeter of a military base.

A yearlong preliminary pilot program agreement between the Air Force and AT&T has established a perimeter network at Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) in Montgomery, Ala.

The integrated system connects several technologies through a single portal with fencing, infrared sensor technology and wireless cell phone technology utilizing SIM chips.

“This demonstrates how large sensors can be deployed and used in a military installation. Video monitoring is triggered when the perimeter is breached. It uses private cloud technology along with a messaging system and alerting system,” said Rocky Thurston, Air Force client executive vice president, AT&T Global Public Sector Solutions.

The effort, which began in December, also uses facial recognition systems and multiprotocol label switching (MLPS), Thurston said. MPLS is a type of data-carrying technique for high-performance telecommunications networks that directs data from one network node to the next. It is based on short path labels rather than long network addresses, avoiding complex lookups in a routing table.

The network uses embedded SIM-chip technology to send signals through an LTE network; small five-foot towers send and receive infrared signals, Thurston added.

Referred to as a “smart base,” the concept behind the technology is to provide improved security and allow Airmen to more efficiently allocate their time for other, more important missions, Colonel Don Lewis, 42nd mission support group commander, Maxwell AFB, said.

The alerting system can send a text message or email to Airmen responsible for base security.

“Electronically monitoring the perimeter gives Airmen more time. By taking away the necessity to do some things like patrol the perimeter on-the-spot, Airmen can focus on more important things. I want to leverage smart base technology in a way that makes me not have to send out a patrol immediately because I know there is movement in an area. I can reduce the number of patrols and still maintain the security I need” Lewis said.

AT&T is also working with various cities and municipalities using similar technology designed to improve security.

About the Author

Kris Osborn is a former editor of Defense Systems.

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