POSTSCRIPT / May 18, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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NAIA ignores wireless trend, eyes wired CCTV

LEAPING BACKWARD: While the administration is doing its best to pull out the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from the pit reserved for the world’s worst airports, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines controlled by generals wants to make a great leap backward.

Among the basic needs of an airport is a reliable easy-to-maintain close circuit TV surveillance system. (Remember when a mayor and three others were shot dead at the airport but its CCTV failed to document the killing?)

Last April, the NAIA management moved to modernize the airport’s surveillance and security system covering Terminals 1, 2 and 4, the runway, the aero-domes, perimeter fence, parking lots and access roads.

The P486-million CCTV project is to combine wired and wireless interconnection and use similar technology installed in many international airports. But the CAAP stepped in, wanting to buck the trend by going all-wired.

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INTERFERENCE: The bidding was cancelled, because of a letter of retired Gen. Rodante Joya, CAAP chief finance officer, saying “wireless CCTV systems cause interference with the air navigation equipment” and recommending the use of an all-wired connection for NAIA’s surveillance system.

That was a technical point raised by a finance man. Yet retired Gen. Vicente Guerzon, NAIA asst. general manager for security and emergency services and chairman of the bids committee, cancelled the bidding, postponing it indefinitely.

Guerzon said: “This cancellation is brought about by the advice issued by the CAAP which will affect the specification, scope of work and budget for the contract.”

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BOTHERSOME ISSUES: We asked an international consultant familiar with the technological aspects of such projects. Our discussion left us bothered by some issues:

• Given the recommendations and researches of international aviation organization and institutions, such as NASA, FAA, ETSI, etc., is it wise to use an all-wired system which is a “backward” technology being phased out in almost all airports in the world?

• Wired communication and surveillance systems are very expensive to install, very costly to maintain, not adaptive to upcoming newer technology and equipment, susceptible to sabotage, pilferage and damage from future construction.

• Wiring existing structures will entail digging, knocking down walls, crawling on ceilings, imbedding wires and cables, etc. The installation takes two to three years, versus four to six months for a wireless version.

• The cost for an all-wired system would be double that of a wireless version, likely to jack up the project cost to more than P1 billion.

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WIRELESS TREND: With the advancement in wireless technology, the world trend in airport system management runs contrary to CAAP’s recommendation. The expert we consulted pointed out:

• International aviation institutions, including NASA, recommend the use of wireless RF-based interconnection, not only on surveillance systems, but also on the integration of airport operation through the SWIM (System Wide Information Management).

• Cabled or wired systems are comparatively more expensive to install and maintain than wireless setups, and are not adaptable to Next Generation Aviation Technology System (NGATS).

• CAAP’s concern appears to be misplaced since the effect of RF Interference on wireless aviation technology has long been addressed by respected scientific organizations. Wireless technology is now the backbone of world economy and defense systems.

• Cell phones, Internet, GPRS, bank ATMs, satellite transmission, aviation and naval communications, Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs), guided missiles, radars, TVs and radios, Wi-Fis, etc, all use RFs to receive and transmit data without “interference or radio splurting”.

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INTERFERENCE-FREE BANDS: Yet CAAP’s generals claim that the International Civil Aviation Organization is against the use of radio frequency bands in aviation wireless technology. That is not true.

Modern aviation CCTV technology is designed not to be affected by RFI through the use of pre-designated interference-free frequency band such as the RF bands used by cell phones, laptop Wi-Fi and Wi-Max, etc.

The NAIA can easily secure from the National Telecommunications Commission an exclusive and interference-free radio frequency band to be used on the airport CCTV system. Granting it is true 5GHz band is not advisable, why not use RF bands beyond 5GHz?

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SUPER MEDIA: Twenty members of media, among them Philippine Star reporter Lelaine Jimenea, will receive tomorrow the S.U.P.E.R. Awards for their exceptional and risky coverage of the landfall of super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas last November.

S.U.P.E.R. stands for Salute to Unparalleled People, Endeavors and Resources. It is a private-sector undertaking sponsored by SM Foundation Inc., the socio-civic arm of the SM Group, along its advocacy of “People Helping People”.

SMFI Executive Director Debbie Sy listed the awardees as Atom Araullo of ABS CBN 2; Ted Failon of DZMM/ABS CBN 2 and Ranulfo Docdocan of ABS CBN Tacloban; Love Anover, Jiggy Manicad and Micael Papa of GMA 7; Joecel Huesca of GMA Iloilo; Greggy Magdadaro of GMA Cebu; Benjie Dorango and Erwin Tulfo of TV 5; David Santos of Solar News; DJ Yap of Philippine Daily Inquirer; Tara Yap of Manila Bulletin; Jimenea of Star; Lorelei “Lottie” Salarda of DYBR Tacloban; Jazmin Bonifacio of DYDW; Jimmy Angay-angay of DZRH; Joey Gabieta of LSDE; Jamela Alindogan of Al Jazeera and Andrew Stevens of CNN. Their team members will also receive awards.

Three media members who lost their lives covering the landfall will be given posthumous awards: Archie Globio of DYBR-Tacloban, and Ronald Vinas and Allan Medino of DYVL-Tacloban.

The awardees were chosen by a board composed of Australian Ambassador Bill Twedell represented by Geoffrey King, Councilor for Development Cooperation, chairman; Luiza Carvalho, director/resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines, vice chairman; and Prof. Rolando Tolentino, Dean of the UP College of Mass Communications, and Ana Maria Garcia, president of SM’s Shopping Center Management Corp., members.

The award ceremonies will be held tomorrow at the Mall of Asia SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, from 5:30 pm onwards.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 18, 2014)

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