Both physical and cybersecurity have been essential to the aviation industry for some time, but thanks to the arrival of smart technology on the scene, airport security has improved significantly to meet the challenges faced when protecting travelers. Artificial intelligence, analytics, biometrics, and developing technology are enabling security teams entrusted with passenger safety nationwide.
With a return to air travel following the COVID-19 pandemic, airports have often been short-staffed contributing to an increase in cancellations, delays, and disruptions in general.
After the high jackings of September 11, 2001, airport security strategies shifted dramatically. Liquids were limited, shoes were removed at checkpoints, and advanced imaging was introduced.
The FAA or U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reports that they service over 45,000 flights daily across 29 million square miles of airspace to approximately 2.9 million passengers. With such massive responsibility, technology is the primary tool for managing security threats.
The integration of AI into security systems is spearheading predictive and proactive strategies to contrast incidents before they happen or as they are happening as opposed to reactive reactions after the fact.
When staff absences increased due to the pandemic, the race was on to screen passengers more rapidly and reduce passengers congregating at security stations. The types of dangerous items confiscated at security checkpoints such as guns and knives have only confirmed the importance of security screening and technology is leading the charge.
Evolving Airport Security Tools
Video monitoring has long been the primary tool in security systems, particularly commercially. Yet video monitoring has evolved to the point that security strategies are now proactive rather than reactive. In the past, an incident was witnessed, and security teams reacted, often arriving after a bad actor had already fled the scene. Thanks to AI, and cloud-based platforms, security personnel can intervene before an incident takes place through the recognition of suspicious behavior.
AI can be programmed to detect suspicious behavior, and suspicious objects like weapons before something happens. Video monitoring can take place remotely from any location. AI-based analytics can collect information, track offenders, and automated alerts and responses.
AI-managed biometrics and LPR cameras recognize persons and vehicles and will immediately alert authorities when considered suspicious. Security personnel can immediately lock specific zones, trigger general lockdowns or alarms and send alerts to authorities thus shortening response times.
Smart Technology for Passenger Screenings
Until recently, passenger screenings were invasive including pat-downs, property searches, and metal detectors. Passengers were required to remove devices, liquids, and anything that could be interpreted as a potential security threat for inspection. Now smart technology is changing these procedures.
Biometrics, and specifically facial recognition, can be used to automate passenger identification and the verification of boarding passes, thus increasing both security efficiency and procedure rapidity. Facial recognition can also aid in eliminating false alarms.
Computed tomography scanners which are common to the medical profession have been introduced so that security personnel have a clear image of what luggage contains. These systems produce 3D high-definition images rapidly so that numerous pieces of luggage can be controlled simultaneously. Likewise, multiple passengers can be checked at the same time. This reduces the amount of time needed for passenger screening and increases their convenience.
AI can play an important role when integrated with scanners to detect suspicious or dangerous objects and be programmed to send alerts immediately to the security team and authorities. This technology is vital to identifying new threats such as plastic explosives, 3D-printed weapons, and other threats designed to evade detection.
Shoe scanners permit authorities to scan shoes without passengers needing to remove them. This new technology will not only scan for weapons but will search for explosives, chemical compounds, and even electronics hidden in footwear.
Data analytics has been crucial to performing more detailed security checks more rapidly. Passenger data is collected and analyzed the entire time a passenger is in the airport in compliance with privacy legislation. This technology reduces unnecessary in-person screening. Security video cameras are programmed to scan passengers as they arrive and analyze identity and behavior.
Data must be securely stored respecting compliance obligations, yet an IATA (International Air Transport Association) survey recently found that 83% of participating travelers would share immigration information to speed up procedures.
Passenger safety is a top priority for airport surveillance and security personnel, yet closing loopholes in security procedures is challenging. Manual security checks can require hours during the busiest flying times.
The use of evolving smart technology that includes analytics, AI, and smart devices to contrast developing cyber and physical security threats places security teams in a stronger position. Security personnel using smart tech can guarantee proactive security strategies and reduce the time needed to screen for threats, and to respond to incidents. Rapidly advancing technology is contributing to a safer airport environment and increased efficiency in implementing security procedures.