The world changed in many ways following the events of 9/11. These changes remain most apparent in airports today. The Transportation Security Administration made many changes following that day and continues to lead in security innovation today. This is an ongoing process, as the agency recognizes criminals continue to find new ways to cause havoc. A person cannot be too careful when traveling by air.
The TSA isn’t alone in working to improve security, however. This agency works with others in the industry to develop new technology to combat emerging threats in airport security. They not only help to develop this technology, but they also ensure it makes it into airports in a timely manner. Biometrics and identify verification are two ways of doing so, but there are countless others currently being used or developed at this time.
Biometrics and Identify Verification in Airport Security
The Transportation Security Administration continues to evaluate and use biometric technologies. It does so because it believes these technologies increase the effectiveness of other security measures. In addition, the technologies improve operational efficiency.
When exploring these technologies, the agency looks for those that are scientifically driven. They recognize key advancements have been made in terms of the accuracy and speed of biometrics, allowing the automation of many processes.
The passenger experience improves, as individuals are able to move through the screening process rapidly. At the same time, they don’t need to worry about their civil liberties or privacy being compromised. However, passengers still have the option of undergoing a standard ID check if they prefer.
Many people prefer to use their fingerprints as their ID and boarding pass. Facial recognition technology may become more commonplace in the future, as the agency is working on this technology together with Customs and Border Protection.
CLEAR, a registered traveler program, makes use of biometric technology to allow passengers to undergo identity verification before they move through the agency’s security checkpoint. In addition, credential authentication technology is being employed to verify the authenticity of a passenger’s photo ID and match that ID to the passenger vetting system.
Airport Security and Threat Detection
When a person thinks of threats within an airport, they often think of passengers bringing items in on their body or in their luggage. With the help of 3-D X-ray technology, these threats are detected, as security personnel can see the contents of a bag quickly and easily. Passengers move through security in less time and keep electronic devices in their bags when doing so. Research and development teams are working on improving this technology, so liquids may remain in bags as well.
However, this is only one aspect of threat detection in airports today. Disgruntled employees and lackadaisical workers also pose threats, and safety officials must recognize this. In 2015, a Russian jet was brought down by what appears to have been a bomb in a drink can. Experts believe an airport employee placed this bomb on the plane.
Another threat is staff members engaging in low-level crime while at work. They may steal items from passenger bags or smuggle drugs. Organized crime networks benefit from this and use airports to traffic drugs. Heathrow Airport just fell victim to this crime, which involved baggage handlers attempting to smuggle millions of dollars’ worth of drugs.
Experts must recognize security threats come within an airport as well and take measures to combat these activities. Individuals must be restricted to only those areas necessary for their standard duties. Doing so helps to reduce the risk of these insider threats and keep passengers and reputable employees safe.
Biometrics is only one way to ease the screening process for travelers. Airports are now offering screening lanes that will allow multiple passengers to remove personal items simultaneously. These lanes enhance security while improving the flow of passengers through security checkpoints.
Certain travelers can make use of Mobile Passport Control today to move through the screening process faster. They do so by submitting their passport and custom declaration information through an app on a mobile device. Doing so allows them to spend less time on passport inspections. There is no fee for this service and a person doesn’t need pre-approval. This leads to reduced wait times, more efficient processing, and minimal congestion.
Automated Passport Control is another option for passengers and is available in those areas where Mobile Passport Control isn’t. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency created this program to make it easier for certain groups to enter the country. American citizens, those who are legal permanent residents of the United States, and Canadian citizens benefit from this program. The same is true for certain Visa Waiver Program participants as well as specific travelers who hold a United States visa.
Individuals who qualify move through an automated process when entering the United States. They do so use the CBP’s Primary Inspection area. The traveler answers questions related to the CBP inspection using a self-service kiosk. In addition, the traveler submits biographic information.
This free service requires no pre-inspection or membership. In addition, it has measures in place to protect the personal data of those who use the self-service option. As with the Mobile Passport Control, use of this program reduces wait times, eases congestion, and allows travelers to be processed in less time.
Multiple entities must come together to provide the highest level of security for airport travelers. This includes the industry, the public, and the government. New security threats emerge every day, and security personnel must monitor and address these threats along with ones that are already well known.
Security screening remains the biggest struggle for those in the industry. They must balance the safety of passengers with ease of traveling. Failing to do so will lead to individuals finding other methods of transportation. The measures outlined above are a good start, but more work needs to be done.
Companies within the industry continue to look for new ways to improve the customer experience while enhancing airport security. Airport security is one area where any mistakes or failures can have disastrous consequences. The industry must continue to find this balance between safety and convenience. Until this balance is found, the airline industry must find other ways to satisfy customers or risk big losses.