Working with Airports

February 23, 2012

In some of our previous blogs we’ve talked about our work with partners within the aviation community.  Today, our focus is on airport operators, the end users of Rapiscan’s passenger & baggage security screening technologies.  We feel very strongly that the needs of airport operators must be understood and taken into consideration when developing and deploying security screening technologies. 

One of our partners is Airports Council International – North America, (ACI-NA).  We find great value in being able to join ACI-NA’s airport members when they gather at conferences to discuss common issues.  Upcoming on March 26, they will be gathering at the 2012 Public Safety and Security Spring Conference to discuss a variety of airport security issues. 

We’ve asked Chris Bidwell, Vice President, Security and Facilitation to share with us some of ACI-NA’s thoughts on how airport security is evolving. “ACI-NA has long advocated for a shift from a rigid process of screening for things to a system that draws upon the vast amount of available data and intelligence information to focus security processes on individuals. TSA’s Pre Check program is absolutely what is needed and TSA – specifically Administrator John Pistole – should be commended for implementing risk-based security initiatives involving pilots, passengers and cargo. We are very encouraged by the success of the program, the level of coordination with airports and support its expansion to additional locations.  From a practical perspective, the risk-based Pre Check program harnesses available data – provided by passengers on a voluntary basis – and intelligence information to serve as an indicator to guide the application of screening resources. Limited resources are preserved by ensuring the most invasive screening technologies and screening procedures are applied to individuals about whom the least is known. By providing eligible known travelers expedited screening, it reduces traveler frustration and offers a certain level of predictability – while including an essential random security element – but also streamlines the screening process today and allows for the development of a sustainable system in the future. Senior TSA, Transport Canada, airline and airport representatives will discuss risk-based security on a panel at the upcoming ACI-NA Public Safety & Security Conference. “

The ACI-NA Public Safety and Security Committee is lead by airport security professionals and they share their thoughts on specifically how screening technologies impact airport security. 

Rob Benstein, from Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee offers these insights:  “With respect to technology, it needs to be efficient, accurate, reliable, cost-effective, and customer friendly.  It also needs to be easily integrated into a system, which may include other technologies and processes.  Ultimately, technology should provide for the smooth, uninterrupted flow of passengers, baggage and cargo.  Regardless of how good a certain technology is, if it is not properly implemented, it will likely result in more frustration for our passengers, employees and business partners.”

Gary Duncan, Lee County Port Authority, operators of Southwest Florida International Airport, 2nd Vice Chair of Public Safety and Security committee says, “I fully support TSA moving forward with their Risk Based Security (RBS) efforts to better streamline the passenger screening process in our nation’s airports.  However, as they move forward with this program, as they do with other checkpoint screening initiatives, TSA will need to recognize and appreciate the valuable and limited real estate within the current checkpoint’s footprint, space that TSA doesn’t lease from the airport. If additional space is needed to accommodate the RBS program, working with the local airport sponsor early in the process is paramount.  If RBS fits within the current confines of the existing checkpoint, all the better.”

Fred McCosby, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, and Past Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee offers: “Technology as it relates to airport security has been reactive in nature and treated as an afterthought in an effort to mitigate a threat.  As the military has proven, effectiveness is less about boots on the ground and more about technology.  There is no reason to believe that if technology was moved to the forefront of threat mitigation as it relates to airport security, R&D would move quickly in terms of a seamless and passive technology moving well out in front of the checkpoint to deter a threat.”

We thank Chris, Rob, Gary and Fred for sharing their thoughts with the Checkpoint Blog.  Rapiscan is committed to working with airports in developing the best security screening technologies that work for them.  We look forward to joining our airport partners on March 26-29 in Vancouver, BC for the next meeting of the 2012 Public Safety and Security Spring Conference.  We hope to see you there!

Filed Under: Technology & Screening Solutions | Airports/Aviation Security