RETAIL security
is a major challenge for end users and integrators. A successful retail
environment is built around giving customers a powerful retail experience –
that means a close encounter with the items they want to purchase. But by its
very nature security applications are restrictive. The typical layered security
system if taken to its natural end would lock retail items inside displays
protected by electronic detection and surveillance systems. The merchandise
would be safe but there would be no sales.

What all this
means is that any EAS application is a search for balance in the clash between
accessible retail display and the principles of security. But there’s more to
this story than that. Firstly these Nuance Group stores carry a range of
portable high value items including fragrances, alcohol, cigarettes,
electronics and other luxury goods – all of these are prime targets for

Making things
more challenging still, the Nuance Group’s duty free stores aren’t bundled up
on Main St with a ceiling, 4 walls and restricted access points lending
themselves perfectly to typical EAS applications. Instead these stores are in
major Australian airports – and they’re not all in classic retail environments.
The biggest of them sprawls across hundreds of square metres of open terminal
smack in the entry and exit thoroughfares of Australia’s largest airport. It
has no ceilings, no walls and no single entry and exit point.

Logically at
airports, passenger thoroughfare is the central function and the Nuance Group’s
retail security needs take second place to the airports’ demand for efficient
passenger movement. And we’re not talking about just a few passengers. At major
airports multiple large aircraft arrive at the same time. In all, around 15,000
passengers pass through Sydney Airport each day and all must go through the
Nuance Group’s stores.

If you can
visualise 200 or 300 shoppers pouring through a retail environment
simultaneously in a stream constantly replenished by the arrival of new flights
then you’re starting to get the picture.

And there are
additional challenges. Some of the stores are air-side and because a Radio
Frequency (RF) system forms the heart of some EAS solutions, there’s the
potential for interference and false alarms. For this reason RF EAS technology
has long been avoided on the sterile side of airport terminals and why ADT’s
Sensormatic Floor-Max was ultimately acquired to provide a solution. This is
the first such application in the world.

Finally and most
significantly, there are inevitable administrative hurdles to overcome in an
airport. Airports are secure and highly regulated environments. You can’t just
tear up floors, start drilling or installing structures in open areas of
airport terminals without going through a lengthy process of assessment and
approval from regulatory bodies. In fact you can’t even turn up airside with a
screwdriver without being processed correctly or accompanied at all times. For
the Nuance Group and ADT Security, all these issues represented major
challenges that had to be overcome before and during multiple installations in
4 major airports simultaneously.

Integral to the
Nuance Group’s successful applications of EAS in Australia’s airports is
Richard Airth, the company’s national loss prevention manager. A former NZ
police inspector, Airth has a diverse background in retail security going back
2 decades and he has worked in the both the U.S. and Hong Kong. Not
surprisingly, Airth was involved in pioneering applications of early EAS
systems in both countries.

Now based in
Australia, Airth had the full backing of a supportive senior management team at
the Nuance Group and he worked closely with ADT Security’s regional retail
Sensormatic sales manager, Michael Day. Typical of sales people supporting
boutique technologies, Day is half engineer, half system designer. Once fired
up, Day talks like he eats EAS for breakfast. The joint enthusiasm of Airth and
Day for their systems is readily apparent.


Before we get to
the heart of this application it’s important to map out its geographical scope.
It helps to think of Nuance Group’s EAS systems as forming a nebulous whole.
Each system is a solution unto itself with a networked diagnostic and
management system welding all the systems together. But while elements are
networked to a central location for basic monitoring and diagnostics, other
functions must be handled in stores by specially trained sales teams. EAS is
not like access control or video surveillance where you can drive the bus from
the back seat. EAS demands instant staff response and this imperative is
reflective in the system design.

The Nuance Group
has multiple stores at Perth Airport, Brisbane Airport, Sydney Airport and
Melbourne Airport, and EAS systems and supporting video surveillance have been
installed in all of them. Melbourne Airport has 3 EAS deployments completed
with 2 to go, while Brisbane has 2 very large installations completed. In
Sydney there are 8 sites, with 6 completed including 2 huge departure stores
and there are 2 arrival stores in the process of being completed. Typically,
arrival and departure stores are the biggies with smaller satellite stores
located throughout terminals.Taking the vast
nature of this EAS integration into account the difficulties and challenges of
the Nuance Group’s installations become clear to see.

“While elements of
the actual installation were difficult, the greatest challenge of all was
feeling a way through the administrative pathways required for approval, with
each channel changing depending on which part of which site and on which site
the installation teams were working,” Airth says.

“For example, one
of the things we wanted at Sydney Airport was EAS pedestals at cash points and
along the public walkway in our big store located on the departure route on the
air side of the international B Terminal,” Airth says.

“While the Nuance
Group leases part of Sydney Airport for its major departure and arrival stores,
in the middle of these stores Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd (SACL) maintains a
significant thoroughfare.

“It took us about
6 months to negotiate our way through the various departments of Sydney Airport
Corporation Ltd (SACL) which hold responsibility for the areas concerned and to
get this part of the installation approved,” Airth says.

“There was SACL
Retail, SACL Engineering – all the different departments were involved and we
had to work our way through this administrative maze one step at a time.

airport regulations are there for good reason and the airport and its
passengers’ needs come first but throughout the installation satisfying the
relevant authorities was a real hurdle for us.

“As an example,
because there had been no pedestals in air side of the Sydney Airport before,
the process went so far as CCTV being installed to view dummy pedestals to make
sure in the event of a real installation passengers would not walk into them,”
Airth says.

“These dummy
pedestals were installed with soft bumper bars so that if people did walk into
them they would not be hurt. The test process showed no one having trouble with
the pedestals but the process still had to be undertaken.

Airth says
approvals didn’t end with airport authorities.

“Once agreement
has been reached with all the relevant airport departments and pedestals have
gone in, Australian Customs might come along and say: ‘We think the pedestals
are slowing traffic into the customs halls’ and request we move them – and that
has actually happened.”

Airth explains
that because of the different groups influencing the airport environment, the
solutions reached are unique to each site. That makes design more complicated
because each solution has to be created and then recreated to suit the needs
and wants of different sites and different administrative authorities.

ADT Security’s
Michael Day agrees negotiating shared space was a key challenge.

“If you take
Sydney Airport as an example, certainly the major element of complexity with
this installation is that while the Nuance Group leases retail space in the
terminal, the central thoroughfare is SACL territory,” Day explains.

“While it appears
you’re in the midst of the store, you’re not – instead you’re on Sydney Airport
Corp land and it’s only when you get off the walkway that you get into the
Nuance Group store,” Day says.

“Obviously SACL
is concerned about its thoroughfares so when it came time to install cabling,
the proximity to those thoroughfares and the need to take cable underneath them
created issues for all concerned.”

Day says airports
are unique in the multiple regulatory bodies whose provisions must be adhered

“As an
illustration of the mixed responsibilities, when you think of cameras in our
retail areas at the Sydney Airport terminal half of these will be SACL Security
Department cameras,” Day explains. “Others will be Australian Customs cameras
and the rest are Nuance Group security cameras.”

Unique system

Just what is EAS?
It’s Electronic Article Surveillance – a technology solution in which tags are
attached to items and a series of perimeter RF loops are linked to a central
controller to report alarms generated by movement of tags that are not

Without getting
completely enmeshed in the technical, it’s worth understanding that EAS tags
comprise magnetostrictive, ferromagnetic amorphous metal and a strip of a
magnetically semi-hard metallic strip functioning as a biasing magnet. EAS
Pedestals and concealed loops dish up tonal bursts at about 58 kHz which is the
resonance frequency of the amorphous strips. In the presence of these loops the
strips are magnetized and vibrate longitudinally. This vibration generates an
AC voltage in the receiver antenna at a frequency the loop is tuned to receive,
generating an alarm.

According to the
manufacturer, significant benefits Sensormatic AM technology offers versus RF
include: Infinite width protection as determined by the retailer and/or
structural requirements with visible antenna configurations and up to 60 feet
or more with concealed antenna configurations.

Sensormatic says
its technology also has the highest deactivation reliability available; small
labels one-quarter the footprint of RF technologies; virtually no false alarms
and no body shielding. Sensormatic also supports integrated source tagging and
offers a variety of labels and hard tags solutions for every retail sector.

EAS is a mature
and well sorted technology but there’s no question the Nuance Group and ADT
Security broke new ground with this installation. Both Airth and Day maintain
the EAS systems they’ve created in high traffic areas at major airports are
unique from a retail perspective. And they’re right.

“The biggest of
these duty free stores sprawls across hundreds of square metres of open
terminal smack in the entry and exit thoroughfares. They have no ceilings, no
walls and no single entry and exit points”

“Generally in
retail environments there’s a ‘box’ representing a store with 4 walls and we
protect that box with an alarm system, some cameras and an EAS system,” Day
explains. “This type of system is self-contained and the owner of the retail
space does not need approval from council or external authorities unless
installation is being undertaken outside the retail space.”

“Brisbane Airport
is a perfect example of the unique, open EAS systems we’ve created,” Day
explains. “In Brisbane there’s a huge kidney shaped retail floor in the middle
of the terminal and when you’re in it the only way you can tell you’ve reached
the end of the store is the EAS perimeter installed there.

“These stores are
completely open,” he says. “There are gateways into the retail area from the
floor but essentially they’re wide open and that was one of the complexities
for Richard and the Nuance Group and something we had to overcome together.

“There are very
wide egresses at departure and that means big numbers of people walking into
and out of these environments – there are huge passenger numbers at peak

According to Day,
many of the Nuance Group’s applications are completely different to the usual
retail EAS model.

“It’s the
combination of Sensormatic’s new Floor-Max concealed systems and the Ultra·Max
pedestal systems in a departures environment in the sterile side of the airport
with huge numbers of people moving through – that’s the uniqueness of the
systems we put into these airports,” Day explains.

“There are no
department stores in the world in which systems of this type and complexity
contend with such large numbers of customers. In the planning stages I thought
if it hasn’t been done in an airport maybe there’s an application where the
system had been taken out of closed store environments and installed in open
mall areas with huge throughputs of customers that we could look at but nobody
has done such an installation,” says Day.

“This is an EAS
thoroughfare system in an area that’s not owned or leased by the store – it’s
really very special. When I first spoke to Richard my initial reaction was –
you want to do what? It is simply unprecedented. The entire departure traffic
of Sydney and Melbourne airports goes through Nuance’s stores every day – in
Brisbane it’s probably 90 percent of the traffic moving through. That’s on
departure as well as arrival.”

Airth says the
open nature off the stores has led to confusion at times.

“We found people
walking right through one of our stores and going into an adjacent Virgin
Records outlet to pay for their liquor – in another instance customers went
over to Customs and tried to pay there,” he explains. “What this illustrates is
the importance of effective EAS in these sorts of unique retail

Airth says the
nature of the EAS systems installed for the Nuance Group is driven by the style
and size of the company’s stores.

“We have such
huge stores we needed an alternative to the pedestal style of system – operationally
and aesthetically. These demands called for something different,” Airth

“Just at the time
we were looking for a solution, ADT came forward with its new concealed system,
Floor-Max, which is a shallow bury concealed system. This was very good for us
as we weren’t raising our floors very much – it’s been perfect for the job.

“With Brisbane
being such a huge, open store we couldn’t put pedestals everywhere because of
visual clutter,” Airth says. “Michael came up with the idea of using Floor-Max
and putting in a significant concealed system instead. The completed system
incorporates pedestal and concealed EAS points.

“Importantly for
us, the presence of an EAS pedestal gives us a deterrent factor so we needed
pedestals as well as concealed units.”

Airth says an
advantage of the FloorMax is that it does not restrict passengers heading
through the terminals.

“You have 3 or 4
jumbos or A380s land at virtually the same time all day,” Airth explains.
“That’s thousands and thousands of people who are have been on an aircraft for
24 hours and want to get home. It’s a challenge from the point of view of
security and retail. With such large numbers of travelers coming through you
can’t protect a store with security officers – you need a tagging system.

Airth says the
Nuance Group is the first retailer in the world to use EAS in an airport’s
sterile environment. That’s because of the frequency of alarm signals, the
unrelated frequencies in that environment. The secret is tuning each system to
suit the environment in which it’s installed.

Day agrees.

“Something else
to take into account in terms of response is false alarms given that the
systems live in environments with a lot of strong RFI signals. These are
systems that look for a frequency coming back towards them in order to alarm,
then any frequency that behaves that way may generate an alarm,” he explains.

“In this case an
environmental signal running on 58kHz can generate an alarm – whether it’s a
lighting transformer or whatever it might be. Some systems are designed to tune
themselves down to avoid false alarming in the event of environmental noise
that is in its area but not moving. Of course this means the system is less
sensitive and covers less area. Tapping in remotely and tuning remotely we can
get around this.

“There are also
issues relating to the sounding of alarms in the sterile area,” Day says. “You
can’t just have sirens and strobes going off in a high security airport
environment – that had to be taken into account during the design of the

Airth says an
issue for any EAS system and the staff responding to it is the size and open
nature of the protected areas.

“This demands a
creative alarm signalling solution and what Michael has done is introduce
different sounds for different areas so staff know where to look in the event
of an event.”

Day agrees that
alarm signalling in such big spaces was challenging.

“This was
something we tripped over – we hadn’t really experienced this before. In a
typical retail store things are far easier – there’s an entry and exit point
and an alarm draws your attention to that one area,” he explains.

“But in these
Nuance applications staff could be in the middle of a 360-degree retail space
with no doors and no walls. Which way do you look and how do you react to an
alarm tone? It really is very hard to recognize where an alarm has come from.

“We’ve countered
this with a visual alarm and different audible alarms designed so staff within
the stores become familiar with the tone of their area’s alarm.”

According to
Airth, any EAS solution the system is only as effective as the staff who manage

“If staff don’t
react it’s meaningless and we take a lot of time training staff in how to
manage a situation in which a customer has to be told their bag has set of an
alarm including ways in which to respond that,” Airth says.

“Our method is to
ask for a receipt and if there isn’t one to offer to sell the item to the
customer and that’s a technique we’ve found works very well.”


According to
Airth, the installation of the systems had difficulties of their own that
varied between the sites. Brisbane Airport was green field allowing EAS to be
installed during the building process, but other locations were already built
meaning significant under floor retrofitting had to take place in an
environment that was running at full capacity.

“There are
significant physical demands for such an install,” Airth explains. “If you need
to do core holing when installing devices you have to make sure you’re not
breaking into some secure area underneath. You have to groove the floor for
wiring and the slab has to be capable of taking the cut needed to chase the
wiring through the site.”

Day says
Floor-Max was an ideal solution in Nuance Group applications.

allowed us to just lay cable – previously you were laying electronics in the
floor – literally you were burying a pedestal under the floor,” Day explains.

“The excavation
to do that is 50mm deep while Floor-Max is a loop of cable in a figure-8 with a
chase depth of only 12mm.” 

Day says direct
burial demands installation during construction or the system has to be chased
into the floor.

“With existing
stores you have to cable chase and cable chasing is tough. It has to be
approved. Cable goes in through the grout line of tiles and then is buried
again and while this sounds easy it’s difficult and time consuming.

“A big advantage
of a green field site like Brisbane Airport is that we can put in our floor
system by laying out cables – the floor builders then come along and direct
bury them. With an EAS system it’s much easier to rough in before the store is

“Even this is a
tricky process and we worked closely with designer Sam Cassenedi and the Nuance
Group so the EAS system and the store designs worked effectively,” Day
explains. “With buried systems you have to get the installation right first

Day says existing
systems in many sites made the Nuance Group’s integration more challenging.

“Sydney Airport
is a good example,” Day says. “There are no plans and the only way to
understand a system is to manually trace it by hand. When you consider the mass
of legacy electronic equipment installed at an airport that’s not an easy thing
to do. We also had to deal with dirty power supplies – they were another big

Despite the
difficulties, Day says the Nuance Group integration has been highly enjoyable.

“CCTV and alarm
installation in retail environments is relatively straightforward – you put in
sensors and you put in cameras covering the usual fields of view,” Day
explains. “But an EAS solution installed in 4 different airports is left field
and it pushes the boundaries in a global sense – it has taken us out of what
we’ve been doing and that creates opportunities.

“For me what was
exciting was the fact that a large conglomerate was prepared to stretch
itself,” he says. “Other companies might have looked at the product specs and
said ‘where has this been done before – show me some photos’ but ADT Security
and the Nuance Group were prepared to go a step further.” 

According to Day,
Richard’s experience in Hong Kong and the U.S. were beneficial in that he
brought new ideas to the table.

“It’s actually
not common for us to be working with a security professional like Richard – we
certainly fed off his expertise and experience and the resulting Sensormatic
EAS solution is something we’re all really proud of.”

Airth is also
pleased with the Nuance Group’s new EAS systems.

“From my point of
view since I joined the company 12 months ago management has come to appreciate
the importance of EAS and they’ve partnered with me enthusiastically and that
has meant I’ve been able to work closely with Michael and ADT Security to get the
best systems in our stores – these systems will grow, too.

“The departure
store at Terminal B at Sydney Airport will become one of the biggest stores of
its kind in Australasia in 2009 – it will quadruple in size and become as big
as some of the biggest stores in Asia – it will be huge.”

But the key to an
effective security solution is not just a unique

application of
technology. The system has to pay for itself and it has to go on saving its
owner money. Measured against this yardstick how do the Nuance Group’s EAS
systems fare?

“As it stands
this installation is excellent,” Airth says. “The system works, everyone is
happy and we’ve reduced shrinkage by 50 percent – obviously we are delighted
with that.”

“If you can
visualise 200 or 300 shoppers pouring through a retail environment
simultaneously in a stream constantly replenished by the arrival of multiple
new flights then you’re starting to get the picture”