What safety measures actually make airports safer, vs. just making us “feel” safer?
Many people pass through international airports every day, and this high volume of people presents an irresistible target for terrorists. Add to this the destructive potential of a bomb on a large plane like the Russian Metrojet plane that exploded over Sinai in October of 2015, or the huge death toll possible when hijacked planes are used as weapons of destruction, as in the 9/11 attack, and the need for a layered and extensive approach to security measures becomes instantly clear.
The March 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels have renewed the debate over whether security checks at the entrance to airport terminals should be added along with other more stringent safety measures, or whether the security procedures currently in place are sufficient.
While some of the following measures may seem extreme, the airports using them are rated as some of the safest in the world:
- Monitoring remote airport perimeters and critical areas with smart thermal and day/night camera systems
- Using checkpoints to monitor vehicles entering the airport premises
- Extensive screening of airport personnel
- Monitoring the departures entrances and parking areas
- Using military troops as backup for airport security
- Using facial recognition software linked to international counterterrorism databases
- Using software that reads facial expressions to determine malicious intent or extreme anxiety
Of course every airport is different and has different regional realities, needs, and concerns. What they all have in common is that they all operate around the clock, and they need security measures that do the same.
Smart thermal cameras are one such measure, and are at the forefront of land-based security technology. They improve situational awareness by providing round-the-clock intruder detection. Using these systems can increase security awareness without slowing down airport traffic; improving safety while cutting manpower costs in the long term.
So what is stopping international airports from anteing up in the security department? One reason is that large scale changes take time, and can seem costly. As a result we usually only see the short term solutions of governments and airport management, like temporarily stepping up security, law enforcement, and military presence in airports. These are effective measures for calming the public for the moment, but are not realistic long term solutions, as the costs have no long term return on investment.
The demand for an overhaul of long term security protocols to protect travelers and their families has become abundantly clear. As it turns out, several international airports have already begun improving safety conditions by purchasing and installing smart thermal camera systems, and those that haven’t should consider following their example. The next time you decide to fly, what security measures will you want to see implemented in the airports you choose to fly in and out of?