Next-level airport security – It’s a question of cooperation

In a rapidly changing world, airports must keep pace with an expanding range of increasingly complex security challenges. From the ever-present threats of terrorism, smuggling and sabotage, to the security ramifications of global viral episodes, keeping airport staff, passengers and infrastructure safe has never been more challenging.

The times call for more sophisticated security measures to meet these challenges. As the pandemic has dramatically demonstrated, airports cannot rely on throwing more people at the problem, due to the increased risk of viral transmission. Instead, the ongoing trend of turning to technology is speeding up once again.

Technologically enhanced security – the shield that covers every part of an airport
Airport security today needs to be approached as a comprehensive, end-to-end solution, where every facet of its infrastructure and personnel are sufficiently protected. Emerging technologies continue to augment the ability of security staff to proactively detect, mitigate and neutralise potential threats before they can fully materialise. These solutions, if deployed and integrated correctly, can be the eyes, ears and even the shield that airports need.

As with any technological adoption, planning will be key. Those airports that can choose the right solutions, in collaboration with the right providers, will be the ones best placed to secure themselves for the long term.

Technologies that are reshaping the airport security landscape
Computed Tomography (CT): Recent advances in CT scanner technology now allow airports to achieve extremely precise and detailed 3D imaging of any kind of baggage passengers bring with them. Not only does this provide better oversight, leading airports report that passenger security screening has been halved (at least) by their CT solutions. This is an essential consideration – shorter and easier processing relieves the burden on staff, minimises contact with passengers and generally contributes to the orderly functioning of the airport, allowing security staff to focus on seeking out genuine threats.

AI-based video analytics: AI is being hailed as the future of comprehensive airport security, with more practicable and capable solutions being deployed worldwide almost monthly. Connecting physical security/surveillance infrastructure (cameras, scanners, patrolling robots, etc) with an AI-enabled platform gives security the reach to cover the entirety of the airport. Such solutions can detect and track persons of interest and hazardous objects/cargoes with the kind of speed and clarity that is beyond traditional surveillance tools and techniques. However, the AI-based approach goes beyond simple surveillance, and the most advanced solutions can now act in concert with human security teams, automating various security elements like locking down doors and perimeter areas, setting off alarms and passenger alert protocols, and much more. This all allows airports to react in a timely and decisive manner to any security threat.

Biometrics: Already a known security feature in leading airports like DXB and KAIA, biometrics is advancing beyond fingerprint and retina scans. Full facial mapping and even more unconventional biometric-based solutions (such as voice/facial analysis to determine if a person is hiding something or planning an act of violence) are entering the field. When used in concert with existing security infrastructure, biometrics will further streamline and strengthen existing protocols, improving the speed and accuracy of identity confirmation, passenger processing, verifying staff security clearance, and eliminating the need for personal contact checks and searches. This will lead to safer, more sanitised and efficient airport security.

Airport security must act as an integrated solution
Viewed individually, these technologies can enhance various elements of airport security. Deployed collectively, in an integrated manner, they can completely revolutionise it. The wholesale elimination of outdated manual protocols must lead to the construction of a wholly new security architecture, one that is characterised by integrated technological solutions working with one another to support the oversight and decision-making processes of their human operators.