Thursday, November 10, 2011

Man not machinery more decisive in airport security

Prof. Alan Kirschenbaum, initiator and coordinator of the BEMOSA (Behavior Modeling for Security in Airports) Project has reinforced his criticism of the (ITA) International Airport Transport Association’s “Checkpoint of the Future” program in a recent interview with Stephanie Johnson from the Denver International Travel Examiner.

Checkpoint of the Future, which aims to enhance security while reducing queues and intrusive searches at airports by using intelligence-driven risk-based measures, fails to consider the unique make-up of the individual passengers or those individuals working the technology, said Kirschenbaum.

“BEMOSA has discovered a practically unlimited number of potential scenarios in its simulation modeling based on the reality of behaviors we observed,” said Kirschenbaum in the interview. “This means that future training will need to promote proactive and innovative behaviors rather than rote reactions.”

“In addition, all airports are NOT the same due to physical, demographic and cultural characteristics thereby making it essential that each training program fit the social-cultural context of the potential passengers and employees. Not an easy task but doable,” he said.

In the interview Kirschenbaum pointed out that most security technology in today’s airports were born as a “reactive solution to what has happened.”

“It's a "cops and robbers" scenario,” he said. “From our research, it has become clear that the "human factor" will prove to be more decisive than technology in airport security.”

The reason for this, added Kirschenbaum, is because even technology requires human intervention and interpretation.

“It is here that the wide range of human nature, background, past behaviors and characteristics will play a key role in the decisions made,” he said. “Technology will be part of the background but not at the forefront of the security decisions.”

According to Kirschenbaum, airports should not be viewed as mass production facilities but “complex social service organizations where employees (and not machines) make key security decisions.”

BEMOSA's program, which focuses more on the security interaction between employees and passengers, will therefore provide better security and customer service than one based solely on technology, finished Kirschenbaum.

Read the full interview

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