IATA’s Plans Neglect the Human Factor in aviation security
By Prof. Alan (Avi) Kirschenbaum
As part of its 2012 annual review, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) assess that airline traffic is expected to rise to 3.6 billion passengers in 2016, from 2.8 billion in 2011. The recent IATA review covers the issue of security as part of its comprehensive program to strengthen the air transport industry. Security, as we all know, has been prominent in public and scientific discussion and it is satisfying to note that the new vision for the checkpoint of the future (CoF) is one response to make airport and air travel more secure and pleasant for the passenger.
The emphasis of this effort appears to be primarily focused on technological means to enhance security – developing technology and software to enhance advanced passenger information (API) and passenger name record (PNR) information. The implication is that this will promote passenger flow-through and reduce inconvenience and “friction” for passengers during their airport experience.
The notable “missing link” in this vision is people. Certainly, technology is a critical part of airport security, but this perspective ignores the fact that the entire security decision-making process is in the hands of both employees and, to some extent, the passengers. Nor is there mention of the airport as a complex social organization within which employees and passengers interact with security technology within two distinct social and communications networks – the formal administrative and informal.
These extremely vital aspects presented in the IATA report are marginalized, as they do not reflect how security actually operates in reality.
It is here that the Behavior Modeling for Security in Airports (Bemosa project) has made a major contribution to providing an evidence-based depiction of the actual behavioral security decision-making process among a wide range of employees in airports distributed across Europe. The fact is that up to 40 percent of the decision-makers bend, break and even ignore the rules; that security decisions are primarily made within groups; that most threats are assessed as false alarms; the degree to which employees trust security technology and to which the opinions of friends directly impacts on rule compliance are the reality of security in airports.
These findings can be integrated into the ‘checkpoint of the future’ by recognizing that technology is only one component in the airport triumvirate for not only enhancing security but also making airports viable business organizations.
BEMOSA is a European-wide research project aimed at improving security in airports through enhancing the capability of airport authority personnel to correctly detect potential security hazards and reduce false alarms.
Prof. Alan (Avi) Kirschenbaum from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel is a world expert in disaster management.
BEMOSA (Behavior Modeling for Security in Airports) is a European-wide research project aimed at improving security in airports through enhancing the capability of airport authority personnel to correctly detect potential security hazards and reduce false alarms.