GigNet, a digital infrastructure company with an extensive regional fiber-optic broadband network from Costa Mujeres, North of Cancun, through the Hotel Zone of Tulum, has announced a unique multiparty agreement to bring advanced biometrics to the Puerto Cancun development in Cancun, Mexico. GigNet, which has invested substantial resources in fiber-optic infrastructure in and around Puerto Cancun, will partner with Pangiam, utilizing their Trueface product, one of the leading facial recognition solutions in the world. Puerto Cancun is one of the newest and fastest growing developments in the Cancun region, with a modern marina, destination shopping mall, hotels, office complexes, and an estimated 2,400 residential units including luxury towers and homes.
Pangiam’s Trueface has built a reputation and is ranked as the number one fastest software in the world in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) benchmark. Pangiam will be deploying an advanced facial recognition solution for access control to bolster security at the development.
“Pangiam is excited to strengthen our relationship with GigNet and to provide Puerto Cancun with cutting-edge technology to seamlessly enhance safety and security for the residents and visitors entering the development,” Shaun Moore, chief AI officer of Pangiam, said.
“Puerto Cancun, with the vision of being the best condominium in Mexico, has a continuous development plan for the community, including sustainable mobility and security,” added Omar Sánchez Rodríguez, resident manager (Administrador Residente) of Puerto Cancún. “Among the actions and investments arranged for the continuous improvement of security is the use of Pangiam’s Trueface product. We are pioneers in the implementation of technologies like this with the aim of adding to the security of visitors and owners.”
Mark Carney, OBE and president of GigNet Mexico, stated, “This agreement is important for all the parties, but just as important, it is groundbreaking for the region. Our long-term strategy is to build on our investment in new fiber-optic network infrastructure throughout the region — which makes possible advanced services we are bringing to market in 2023. We have partnered with the Puerto Cancun developers over the past three years to install fiber optics for our hospitality, enterprise and fiber-to-the-home clients in the development. Advanced biometrics, which relies on reliable, high-speed connectivity, will enhance security for residents and visitors, as well as facilitate efficient access controls and other features that make Puerto Cancun one of the most desirable Smart Developments in all of Mexico. Commitment to enhanced security is a key reason the Cancun region continues to break records for visitors. We will seek to expand our relationship with Pangiam to additional developments in the Cancun region.”
Smith Myers ARTEMIS Mobile Phone Location and Communications system has been selected by Nova Systems to be integrated into the Nova Systems airborne mission system that will be fitted onto the helicopter fleet deployed on U.K.’s second-generation SAR (Search and Rescue) program — known as UKSAR2G. The contract builds on the existing U.K. Maritime Coast Guard Agency (MCA) program with the addition of fixed-wing and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) services.
ARTEMIS will be installed across the fleet of rotary and fixed wing aircraft. This new 10-year contract combines existing rotary and fixed wing services into fully integrated, innovative solution led by Bristow Helicopters Ltd (Bristow) that will ensure continuation of critical lifesaving search and rescue aviation services across the whole of the U.K. well into the next decade.
“We are thrilled to be selected by Nova Systems as part of their mission system for the U.K. MCA. ARTEMIS is a fully U.K.-developed and produced technology, which has been recognized by the Royal Aeronautical Society with its Silver Medal award. Everyone at Smith Myers is looking forward with great pride, to ARTEMIS leading to more rapid, positive Search & Rescue outcomes for the U.K. MCA,” said Andrew Munro, managing director of Smith Myers.
In addition to providing a mixed fleet that will include six King Airs (including the B350, B350ER and a B200) and a Schiebel Camcopter S-100 UAS, the composition of the rotary fleet will also change. Bristow will be using a fleet of 18 helicopters, including nine AW189s and three S-92s, along with six new Leonardo AW139s.
According to Dryad Global’s Maritime Security Threat Advisory (MSTA), recorded maritime security incidents are at their lowest levels in 40 years. Incidents of offshore piracy across the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea regions have shown “considerable declines from previously high rates,” the Dryad Global report says.
“The former [is] showing a substantial decline to a near total absence of incidents across a protracted timeframe and the later [is] showing a decline in incident volumes with sporadic evidence of a persistent threat within key areas,” the MSTA stated.
“At the outset of 2023 the Indian Ocean region sees the removal of the HRA which had been in place since 2010, reflecting the considerable decline in traditional maritime security threats within that region,” the MSTA added.
The company’s threat advisory released in December 2022, outlined that total maritime security incidents dropped 36% year on year in West Africa and 5% year on year in the Indian Ocean. Incidents had risen 21% year on year in South East Asia.
“Whilst piracy remains at historically low levels, it is important to note that this is set against the backdrop of a worsening macro-economic headwind that is highly likely to accentuate many of the conditions which are responsible for the prevalence of piracy,” the Dryad MTSA warned.
In a meeting at the end of 2022, it was reported that although the Gulf of Guinea has witnessed a steady decline in incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, more needs to be done to fully operationalize the maritime security architecture. This recommendation came from a senior United Nations official as told to the Security Council during that year end meeting. Other speakers called for renewed action to tackle the root causes of piracy.
Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, assistant secretary-general for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, presenting the secretary-general’s report (document S/2022/818) on the situation of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, said such incidents have continued to decrease during the reporting period.
The steady decline resulted from concerted efforts by national authorities, with the support of regional and international partners; regular deployment of naval assets by international partners; and piracy convictions in Nigeria and Togo in 2021, among others. However, piracy in the Gulf has also morphed during the past decade, she observed, adding that the aforementioned decline might be attributable to a shift by criminal networks to other crimes, such as oil bunkering and theft.
She urged States in the Gulf of Guinea region, alongside the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, to step up efforts to establish a stable maritime environment, including through the full operationalization of the maritime security architecture as laid out in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct in 2013. However, she also noted that the Yaoundé Code of Conduct has faced challenges, including the lack of sustainable financing. Its forthcoming tenth anniversary will provide an opportunity to assess its implementation and set out a strategic roadmap for the next decade, she noted, adding that the Council’s support for this process will be invaluable.
There is no doubt that new access/surveillance technology and advanced security monitoring solutions can improve security everywhere from airports and bus stations to mass transit, trucking and trains. At the same time, it is possible to improve security at any location without increasing costs. Here’s how to do it.
Adapt Your Security SOPs to Reality
All major transportation facilities have some sort of security infrastructures in place, along with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to direct staff on how to manage and maintain these facilities.
In theory, all the staff have to do is to follow these SOPs to keep their facilities secure. In practice, however, this often doesn’t happen. One major reason: “A lot of the time when you find that staff [are] not following correct SOPs, [it] may be an indication that the SOPs are wrong,” said Shannon Wandmaker, director of Cain Wandmaker Aviation Security Consulting (cainwandmaker.com). “Obviously it can be an indication of other things as well — poor training, low staff morale, challenging work environment — but along with looking at those factors, security managers should remember to review the SOPs themselves, and to discuss the SOPs with the staff who are implementing them.”
Often the fixes being used by staff achieve the intent of the SOPs, even if they don’t follow them. This disconnect can occur because SOPs are often developed using a top-down approach, Wandmaker noted. “The national requirements say we need to do X, so our security manual says to do X, so the SOPs says, ‘this is how to do X.’ However, if the front-line staff are doing Y, and that achieves the same security outcome and meets the national requirements, then let them continue doing Y, and change the SOPs.”
Working with security ‘workarounds’ that work achieves two goals. First, “it means the company doesn’t have to waste time and money re-training people to do something a different way for no reason,” said Wandmaker. Second, adopting staff-developed SOPs “also gives front-line staff an opportunity to be heard, and feel that they have contributed to the outcome, and that has the side benefit of improving staff morale and engagement. People are more likely to follow an SOP that they helped write, than follow one that was imposed on them.”
Turn Down the Noise
Remember the old fable of The Boy Who Called Wolf? In this tale, a boy shepherd enjoys riling up his neighbors by calling ‘Wolf!’ when there isn’t one. After a while, his fed-up neighbors stopped heeding his calls, even when an actual wolf attacked the flock and ate them — and in some versions of the story, the shepherd as well.
This same scenario plays out today in transportation security. “Most transportation security hubs — such as airports, mass transit and ports — have global security operations centers (GSOCs) that provide security oversight for these locations,” explained Rebecca Sherouse, director of account management and security advisory at HiveWatch (hivewatch.com, a cloud-based SaaS platform built for physical security teams). “But almost all of these are plagued with “noise” — that is, false incoming alarms that detract from actual events that are occurring. As a result, GSOC operators are overwhelmed and become desensitized to incoming alerts, which can result in missed events and/or emergencies across the transportation sector.”
The solution to this problem? Reduce the number of false alarms due to proper equipment maintenance, a resetting of triggering thresholds so that alarms aren’t being set off by animals and natural phenomena, and any other adjustments that make sense. If security staff know that they can generally trust the alarm messages that they are receiving, they will be far more likely to respond to them.
A further way to cut down the noise is to modify GSOC operations to provide security staff with an integrated view of what’s going on across all of their facilities, so that they can make rational and timely security responses without drowning in data.
Here’s the problem: “There are a lot of devices deployed across the transportation sector, from access control points with varying levels of access, to video surveillance across the entire facility/geographic area, to video management systems, to fire and intrusion detection points, and much more,” Sherouse said. Without some sort of integration platform in place to organize and prioritize this information. “The wealth of data coming out of these various devices and systems can quickly overwhelm physical security operators, who often have to navigate to multiple locations within a GSOC to correlate data, video and other information when conducting an investigation or responding to an alert,” she told TSI. “The biggest lapse for this industry is the inability to correlate all of the incoming data into a cohesive view for an operator designed to streamline response and provide the most accurate and up-to-date information that’s needed to facilitate decision-making.”
Cutting down on the noise while making security jobs more decision-oriented and less a case of passively watching monitors can also lead to more consistent GSOC staffing, expertise and performance. This is because “GSOC operators traditionally have a high rate of turnover because of the largely repetitive nature of the job,” said Sherouse. “Incoming alarms can exacerbate this by becoming a hindrance to response in many situations. This can lead to lower morale and high turnover, which can in turn lead to insufficient training to deal with emergencies as they happen. That’s the last thing that an organization wants when an incident arises — especially in such a critical sector.”
Replace Humans at Access Points with Machines
It is possible to buy new technology and improve security without increasing costs, once the money being saved by the technology’s operations is factored into the equation.
A case in point: “One of the major lapses that exists in transportation security is management of exit lanes and employee access lanes,” said Frederick Reitz, managing director of the aviation security firm SAFEsky. “Most airports have an exit area that must be manned by a security guard or TSA agent (in the U.S.). The standard cost for putting a security guard or TSA agent at an exit lane for 12 months averages approximately $250,000.”
Now, it would cost about $500,000 to replace that one guard with four exit lanes controlled by one automated terminal, he said. But do the math: “The investment of the automated secure exit lanes would pay for itself in two years,” said Reitz. After that, the money saved by not having a human guard would be a bonus.
That’s not all. “Automated lanes are an effective way to prevent access to the secured area,” he said. “They are always watching, and do not open if a person tries to enter from the wrong direction.” In contrast, a human guard requires breaks for meals and restroom use, and their attention can be diverted by passengers asking questions or a staged incident meant to distract them.
Training and Morale Matters
One reason why it is possible to improve security without raising costs is because humans operate security systems — and the training of these humans can be improved by simply executing existing training and morale support programs better. “Regardless of the quality of equipment in place, the quality of the people using that equipment will always be the determining factor on how well the equipment works,” observed Wandmaker. “A one million dollar piece of equipment, operated by someone who has had $1 of training, is worth $1.”
As for the fond hope that advanced technology can compensate for poor operator training and, by extension, poor management by those in charge of such operators? Don’t kid yourself: “No one puts a pilot with half an hour of training in charge of a brand new Airbus A350, no matter how technologically advanced the autopilot is,” Wandmaker said. “Similarly, if you want to get the best performance out of your security equipment, then you need to give the people using that equipment the best possible training and ongoing support.”
It’s ongoing support that organizations will often forget, he warned. Successful staff training does not mean delivering a course once and then never again. Instead, “it’s about initial training, refresher training, support and mentoring, creating career pathways (that include appropriate additional training for supervisors, managers, specializations), and a host of other things,” said Wandmaker. Ongoing support not only ensures staff skills don’t fade over time due to training neglect, but “that they feel like a valued part of the organization, and that their role is not just ‘a job’, but could be an actual career path for them if they wanted it.”
In saying this, Shannon Wandmaker acknowledged that every organization will have limitations in what they can deliver in terms of ongoing support for their staff, based on their size and revenue. “A large multinational manned guarding company will have far more scope to deliver ongoing training, mentoring and career pathways than a small transport and logistics company with three security officers on its books,” he said. “But it’s about doing what you can within each organization’s own reasonable financial and other limits.”
Frederick Reitz is another big believer in ongoing training and support. But he thinks its reach has to be extended to everyone in the organization whose job has an impact on facility security, not just the people manning the desks at the GSOC.
“To prevent lapses in security, it is important that airports and airlines conduct annual security training, through online training modules or in-person classes, to remind staff of the security procedures,” he said. After all, “airline and airport staff are a part of the security process, they are the eyes and ears of the security system. They need to be observant and watch for suspicious activity and unusual events at the airport, on the plane.” According to Reitz, training should include a reminder of facility security procedures, and access control regulations for staff on duty and off duty. Training should include current threat information and a reminder for staff to be aware of their surroundings.
Preventing a Return to Bad Habits
All of the ideas noted above can help improve facility security without boosting costs. But all of the effort required to implement them won’t be worthwhile if staff are allowed to slip back into bad habits six months down the road. This is why security managers have to be vigilant in maintaining the improvements they have made to date, and watchful for new ideas to implement going forward. “In an industry that is constantly addressing new and emerging threats — and taking action to determine the best way to address them — continuously updating response protocols and incorporating them into training of GSOC operators remains critical,” said Sherouse.
“Quality assurance and oversight: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a private organization or a State regulator, around the world one of the biggest areas where organizations let themselves down is quality assurance and oversight,” Wandmaker said. “Organizations put policies, rules, SOPs, guidance material in place, train their staff on it, and then fail to conduct effective QA. And then they wonder why their security outcomes are poor. Effective QA pays for itself, because in addition to identifying poor security outcomes and ensuring they’re corrected, it also allows organizations to review security settings on a regular basis to identify inefficiencies in systems. Good security has a layered approach, but great security ensures only the effective layers are kept.”
Taking the time to maintain security procedures, training, and staff morale is central to keeping bad habits at bay. “Lapses in security occur when we are in a hurry,” said Reitz.
Two examples prove his point. In the first, “as an airline security manager, I was called to the security checkpoint when a flight attendant, rushing for a flight after a layover, forgot she had a knife in her lunch bag,” Reitz said. “Initially, TSA wanted the flight attendant charged with introducing a prohibited item into the secure area. Fortunately, after investigating the circumstances, she was allowed to continue her flight — without her lunch bag.”
In the second instance, “an airport agent wanted to go to the gate and say goodbye to a friend, and used the employee entrance to the secure area,” he said. “This also could have resulted in a one-year suspension of the employee’s airport ID. [But] reasonable heads prevailed and a five-day suspension was given. Security training needs to include examples of these events to remind employees that procedures are in place for a reason, and that rushing often leads us to forgetting the importance of a procedure.”
Three Final Fixes
To conclude this article, the three security experts we interviewed were asked for three final security fixes.
Rebecca Sherouse recommended using “technology to identify and reduce false alarms that take valuable time away from security operators to respond to real emergency situations.”
Shannon Wandmaker said that transportation facilities need to review their security risk contexts statement (or create one, if they don’t already have one), and re-conduct their risk assessments to keep them relevant and useful. “What has changed? Are the threats the same as they were one year ago? Five years ago?” he said. “Are we defending against threats that don’t exist anymore, but not defending against emerging threats? For example, an organization may have previously been concerned about the impact of civil unrest in their country and how that could impact on their supply chains. However, the political situation has stabilized, but the company hasn’t removed the additional security measures. At the same time, they have missed the emergency of cyber security threats, and are grossly under-defended against this much more possible attack.”
Frederick Reitz offered a different view. “The single least expensive way to improve security is to keep staff involved,” he said. To make this happen, “security managers can provide newsletters, bulletins and briefings. Gathering the staff occasionally to have a security briefing not only keeps the importance of security in front of the staff but opens the doors for communication and gives them the opportunity to provide input.”
The bottom line: As this story shows, it is possible to improve security without increasing costs — right here and right now.
One Friday afternoon a man passed through Adelaide airport on his way home after a business trip. The man, who was blind from birth, was traveling with his guide dog.
At the airport security screening point — it is alleged — the man was rudely refused access to the body scanner, and was told to proceed through the walk-through metal detector, with his guide dog put through separately. He was then asked to submit to a pat-down search, though a colleague traveling with him questioned why it was required, as only his dog’s metal harness had triggered the alarm. A screening supervisor who was called over after the fact later agreed that only the dog needed the pat-down search.
The man stated later to the media that he felt humiliated and distressed by not being allowed to proceed through the body scanner and by his subsequent treatment, though by his own account he acknowledged it wasn’t the worst discrimination he’d ever faced.
However, it was, he noted, part of a pattern of discrimination he’d faced time and again when traveling through airport security screening points, which had included being physically pushed back through a body scanner by a screening officer and being on the receiving end of multiple disrespectful and negative comments.
Adelaide airport apologized for the incident. It was not in keeping with their expected high standards of customer service. Indeed, as they pointed out, the airport has a range of policies and programs in place to assist people with disabilities, including having a Guide Dogs trained dog based at the terminal to support travelers who needed extra assistance navigating the terminal.
The problem for Adelaide airport was that the businessman was Graeme Innes, the former Australian disability discrimination commissioner, former Australian human rights commissioner, and a member of the Order of Australia. He knew a thing or two about discrimination.
The problem for Mr. Innes was that the screening officers did nothing wrong. Apart from perhaps displaying less than optimal customer service skills, they were adhering to their standard operating procedures, which in turn had been derived from the legal requirements for screening in Australia.
And so, in a situation where the airport has systems in place to do the right thing, the screening officers involved were doing the right thing, and the passenger themselves was well traveled and well informed, how could it go so wrong, and why does it go so wrong so often?
The intersection between aviation security and facilitation is always a challenging one, and the balance between the smooth flow of passengers and the delivery of aviation security outcomes can be hard to achieve even when facilitating the movement of ‘able-bodied’ passengers from curbside to the aircraft.
So, what happens when passengers with disabilities (physical, psychological, obvious and hidden) arrive in this space?
There are no shortages of examples around the world of people with disabilities receiving less than optimal service at screening points. The inappropriate handling of passengers in wheelchairs, separation of people from their assistance animals, and subjecting people with sensory issues to physical searches being among the more commonly raised complaints.
Given around 20 percent of people have some form of disability, and given the often minimal training security screeners are given regarding the facilitation of passengers with a disability, what can screening providers and airports do to better meet the needs of this substantial slice of the traveling public?
Screening points are, at their core, not designed to accommodate difference, but are designed based on the somewhat shaky assumption that, give or take some height and weight differences, everyone who turns up at a screening point is basically the same, understands what is required of them, can prepare themselves unaided, and can ambulate unassisted through the screening process.
For the 45-year-old CEO who flies eight times a month, this is correct. But what about the retired 75-year-old who has never flown before? Even as an ‘abled-bodied’ passenger, his ability to navigate the screening process as an inexperienced passenger is not the same as the CEO.
Add in some other people: a father traveling with two young children, a tourist who doesn’t speak the language, a person traveling with the cremated remains of a loved one, a group of semi-intoxicated people on a rugby trip. All of these people present differently at a screening point, will have vastly different understandings of what is required of them, and vastly different capacities to comply.
Now, let’s mix in ‘obvious’ disabilities such as deafness or blindness, and people using wheelchairs or mobility aids who need additional time or help through the process. This adds an additional layer of complexity.
But we also need to consider that of the estimated 20 percent of travelers who have some form of disability, between 80 to 90 percent of them will have what is considered an invisible or hidden disability. This will include, amongst others, multiple sclerosis, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, arthritis, brain injuries, bleeding disorders, mental illnesses, respiratory conditions, speech impairments, diabetes, epilepsy, anxiety, cognitive and learning disabilities, chronic pain, and fatigue.
It turns out people who turn up at screening points really aren’t the same at all.
On the screener side, then, there must be some sympathy.
The expectation that a screening officer, whose primary role is to ensure no threat to security makes it to the aircraft, is also going to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every disability they may encounter, is unrealistic at best.
In addition, screeners also spend much of their poorly paid shift getting yelled at by people who didn’t know they can’t take a full water bottle through the screening point because the rule has only been in place for 15 years.
It’s probably also busy, and noisy, and the screening point is cramped, and three screeners are off sick, and staff turnover is 35 percent a year so most of the screeners are new.
And while there are some screening organizations that prioritize customer service and the passenger experience, the vast majority of screeners are focused on their primary task — protecting the aircraft from threats — and the customer experience is a secondary consideration.
Any wonder that occasionally a screener’s interpersonal and engagement skills with a person with a disability might not be the same as a Singapore Airlines first class cabin manager.
So, What’s the Solution?
While answers may come from a variety of sources, three key areas will be training, passenger differentiation and technology.
While better training of security staff is important, it’s unreasonable to expect screening officers to know every disability and how to address them. However, there are schemes in place in airports around the world that seek to give the airport community — not just the screeners — simple tools that help staff and a passenger with a disability to interact with each other in a more compassionate and understanding way.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme, that finds its roots at Gatwick Airport and is now seen at airports and other transport hubs around the world, is a good example where, by displaying a small sunflower badge, passengers can discreetly indicate they have an invisible disability and may need some support, assistance or simply a little more time when moving through the airport.
The badge forewarns airport staff, and basic training gives them the skills to engage in an appropriate manner.
Having already identified that not everyone who presents at a screening point is the same, the next natural step is to differentiate people in sensible ways.
The simplest first step — space and resources permitting — is the implementation of a dedicated lane for people who need more time. This can include parents with prams, the elderly, people with mobility issues, blind or hearing-impaired people, or people who choose to self-select as needing more assistance.
Taking these people out of the main flow of screening has the dual effect of making other screening lanes more efficient, while at the same time taking pressure off those people who need more time so they don’t feel like they’re holding up the queue.
In addition, further passenger differentiation can be achieved using either real-time or advanced data techniques.
Real-time behavior-based differentiation, which involves a behavior detection officer differentiating passengers before screening, or technology-based differentiation such as automated behavior detection technologies and automated questioning at check-in kiosks, allows passengers considered to be higher risk to be identified and subjected to additional screening.
These techniques could also incorporate an element that would allow people to either self-select as needing assistance (in the case of check-in kiosks), or allow a behavior detection officer or other queue comber to direct people with disabilities to the appropriate screening lane.
Registered or trusted traveler programs such as the TSA Pre-Check system, in which a passenger provides data in advance that allows them to access expedited screening, could also incorporate disability information to give people access to a dedicated screening lane.
Technology will be part of the solution too, but it can be a double-edged sword.
In the Adelaide example, the implementation of body scanners has created categories of passengers who are excluded from their use. This has happened before. People with pacemakers are unable to use a walk-through metal detector, and people with prosthetic limbs almost always find themselves subject to a secondary search, for example.
In addition, most facilitation technology being implemented at airports is focused on removing face-to-face interaction. Online check-in, automatic baggage drop, passport e-gates and the introduction of new screening technology is all well and good for the seasoned traveler, but the opposite of what a person with a disability might require.
The opportunity to tell an actual person, “I need a little more time, I’m having difficulty navigating this process, I’m becoming overwhelmed,” is not built into an automated system.
Seamless travel, automation and digitization can also isolate the elderly, people with learning challenges, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds who have challenges accessing and interpreting technology.
Being able to go from curbside to aircraft without interacting with anyone is efficient if you’re willing, able, and know what you’re doing, but terrible if you need additional assistance.
If increased automation allows people to pass through the airport more smoothly and at a faster rate, it must also free up airport, airline, screening and immigration staff to be available to provide additional assistance to those who need it. More automation used as a tool to reduce staff numbers and human resource costs is not a recipe for better disability facilitation.
Unfortunately, in the short- to medium-term the situation will likely get worse before it gets better.
In the post-COVID aviation environment, staff shortages are resulting in significantly fewer staff, long queues, frustrated and angry passengers (and staff), and an overall less pleasant airport environment. Furthermore, those staff who are at work are generally newer and less experienced than those staff who were on-the-job pre-COVID. It will take years for staff numbers, and staff experience, to return.
In addition, as the aviation industry recovers from its unprecedented financial losses, investing in new technology is unlikely to be a priority in the near-term.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as, long term, accessibility continues to be an industry focus.
In August 2022, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) elevated from a recommendation to a standard the requirement that States ensure persons with disabilities receive the same services customarily available to the general public, and in September, Airports Council International (ACI) launched its Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation Program, the first global program dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of airports for passengers with disabilities.
Given that around 20 percent of passengers travel with a disability, it is incumbent upon industry to be responsive to the needs of this significant slice of the customer base.
As former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Mr Innes noted after his experience, “I do not want a separate system. (I) want this one to treat us equally.”
Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea today.
At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker added.
This incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea. These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa routinely fly aircraft throughout Europe over sovereign territory and throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws. In order to bolster collective European defense and security, these missions support Allied, partner, and U.S. national objectives.
The coast guard from the southwestern port city of Mokpo in South Korea were searching for nine fishermen after their boat capsized near the southwestern coast. Reports said that three crew members were rescued but nine others were missing. The three were saved by a commercial ship near Daebichi Island. The survivors said the engine room filled with water and then the 24-ton vessel capsized.
Veridos has acquired a majority stake in NetSeT Global Solutions. The acquisition of the company, a developer of identity management systems, strengthens Veridos’ position as a full-service provider of integrated identity solutions.
The Serbian company NetSeT is specialized in the development of complex information systems for the management of citizen data and information security. Veridos already took a minority stake in NetSeT in 2017. Now the company has increased its shares and will integrate NetSeT into the Veridos Group.
Veridos and NetSeT have been working together successfully for 20 years. In joint projects, the companies co-operated in providing the ID system for northern Macedonia, ePassport systems for Bangladesh, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates, and a driver’s license system for Uganda, among several others.
“We warmly welcome NetSeT to our group of companies,” explains Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos. “With this acquisition, we are expanding our position as a provider of holistic identity solutions to cover the entire value chain: from citizen registration to the creation and personalization of ID documents and the management of citizen data to document verification.”
Zoran Savic, CEO, co-owner and founder of NetSeT Global Solutions, adds: “Our collaboration with Veridos is a great success story. It has provided NetSeT with access to global markets and the opportunity for sustainable growth. We are very excited to continue this success story as part of the Veridos Group.”
Highlander Partners announced the acquisition of Black Sage Technologies from Acorn Growth Companies. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Boise, Idaho, Black Sage is a multi-mission platform provider of Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS or Counter-UAS) and security solutions for military, internal security, and critical infrastructure industries.
The rise of drone activity has created an immediate need for sophisticated C-UAS systems and solutions to protect against threats to people and critical infrastructure. Black Sage has established itself as a leader in the C-UAS space with its proprietary, highly advanced, scalable open architecture DefenseOS command and control (“C2”) software. DefenseOS delivers leading automation capabilities, including AI/ML automated target recognition and threat evaluation, ISR functionality, electronic warfare, and kinetic and non-kinetic effectors. The Company operates as an integrator of over 40 cohesive sensor and effector systems. This capability facilitates an offering of highly configurable and hardware agnostic systems that are customized to fit mission objectives and customer requisites. Such flexibility ensures that customers are able to address evolving UAS threats.
In 2022, Highlander formed High Point Aerotechnologies (“High Point”) as a division of Highlander to assist in civilian and military defense investments specifically related to the rapidly evolving C-UAS and UAS sectors. Highlander has quickly made significant progress with this initiative. Black Sage represents Highlander’s second focused C-UAS acquisition and complements the C-UAS platform that was established in late-2022 with Highlander’s acquisition of Liteye Systems. It is the third overall related investment, including the recent UAS acquisition of Dzyne Technologies. The assembled High Point team now consists of a variety of established leaders with backgrounds in defense, government, and technology, each of whom will assist Black Sage on tactical opportunities, government relations, regulatory and legislative matters, emerging technologies, and growth initiatives.
“The Black Sage executive team is excited to join forces with Highlander and High Point to continue our growth trajectory in the C-UAS, critical infrastructure, and security markets. The need for effective multi-mission C-UAS solutions is increasingly evident and we believe that Highlander will bring the necessary government and military relationships, industry experience, and long-term financial approach to accelerate our objectives in driving the business forward,” said Al White, CEO of Black Sage.
“The acquisition of Black Sage marks Highlander’s third C-UAS/UAS acquisition since the formation of High Point in May 2022, reconfirming our strategy of targeting technology leaders in these high growth, developing sectors,” Ben Slater, partner and COO of Highlander, commented. “We are confident that Black Sage, with its highly advanced systems, will further our mission of creating world-class, cutting-edge solutions to aid in the defense of our armed forces, allies, and critical infrastructure. We are thrilled to partner with the entire Black Sage team.”
Jeff L. Hull, president and CEO of Highlander, added, “Black Sage has solidified a leadership role in the emerging C-UAS category. Its integrated solutions, driven by their highly advanced DefenseOS software, provide a differentiated solution to the market. We are highly impressed with the vision of the Black Sage team and look forward to working together to meet the large and growing need for effective counter-drone defense solutions.”