Tom Bell Begins Tenure as Leidos CEO

Leidos announced that Thomas Bell has begun his tenure as CEO. Bell’s selection was announced on February 27, 2023.

“Tom comes to Leidos from an impressive global career spanning multiple companies and varied roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently he led Rolls-Royce’s North American business. The Board is confident that Tom is the right leader for the company and will quickly earn the trust of all our stakeholders,” said Robert S. Shapard, who assumed the role of independent Chairman of the Board on April 28, 2023.

Bell was selected by the company’s Board of Directors following a thorough and thoughtful process to select a successor.

“I’m honored to have been asked to lead Leidos into and through its second decade as an independent company,” said Bell. “In its first decade, Leidos has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the missions of our customers. I’m ready to stand with our 45,000 employees to harness technology and push the boundaries of what’s possible, building an even bolder, brighter future together.”

Prior to joining Leidos, Bell was senior vice president of global sales & marketing for defense, space & security at The Boeing Company. He was President of Rolls-Royce Defense Aerospace, having joined as President, Customer Business, North America in mid-2012. He spent more than two decades with Boeing in a variety of leadership positions within the defense, space and security business and began his aerospace career with Lockheed Martin in human space flight.

Bell and Shapard succeed Roger Krone, who served as chairman and CEO since 2014.

Passports Go Mobile with Veridos

Veridos, a global leader in integrated identity solutions, presents a new solution for facilitating seamless travel. VeriGO MobileTravel Assist enables users to transfer personal data from their electronic passport to their smartphone via an app, which afterwards can be used to register for travel, to apply for visas or even to provide personal information to healthcare applications. The recipients of the data benefit from an easy-to-integrate solution to process high-quality data records.

With the VeriGO MobileTravel Assist app for Android and iOS, users can read personal data from the chip of their ePassport via NFC (near field communication), store it on their smartphone and transfer it to websites, apps and readers used by public authorities, tour operators or airports. Special wallet functions enable the management and transfer of multiple passport data sets, such as those of family members, in one go. The solution meets governmental requirements for handling personal information, as the data is completely protected by the app. It stores sensitive information in a dedicated space and establishes secure connections to the target systems for their transfer.

As VeriGO MobileTravel Assist does not require manual transmission of passport data, users save a lot of effort and time. Eliminating the need to switch between different media also minimizes opportunities for error. Recipients receive high-quality, signed and verifiable data for further processing in their systems. Since the records contain passport photos, they can also be used for personal visual checks. The solution’s use cases are diverse: from registering with tour operators and applying for visas, to checking in for flights, dropping off baggage and boarding, or checking in at hotels. But scenarios beyond travel are also possible, such as verification for the purchase of age-restricted or particularly high-value goods, as well as providing personal information to healthcare platforms or even for know-your-customers (KYC) processes in banking transactions to protect against fraud or other abuses.

VeriGO MobileTravel Assist fully complies with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for digital travel credentials (DTC). This ensures the international compatibility of the solution with the systems of the data recipients – even if they are of official origin. All that is required to receive the data is the integration of a backend server and a front-end plug-in. The already well-established Veridos’ digital travel authorization solution VeriGO SmartTravel is already equipped with the VeriGO MobileTravel Assist functionality as an optional feature.

“With VeriGO MobileTravel Assist, passports go mobile and take the travel experience to a new level,” explains Xavier Prost, Head of Identity Management Systems at Veridos. “Our solution covers the complete end-to-end process and allows for easy integration into existing online services with minimal effort. That way, it can bring many benefits to identity protection in the digital space, such as preventing from identity fraud, improving accuracy, allow for faster service time and streamline processes. Our solution also ensures secure and GDPR-compliant handling of sensitive passport data at every step, while preserving privacy.”

New York City to Deploy Robotic Dogs For Certain Events

The mayor of New York City announced that the New York Police Department would start using Boston Dymanics’ robotic dogs in certain situations, specifically life threatening situations.

The types of events the robotic dogs will be used in include hostage negotiations, counterterrorism incidents and other situation as warranted, according to Jeffrey Maddrey, chief of department.

New York City attempted to begin the program two years earlier but the public outrage forced the police department to reconsider which it has now done.

Finland Joins NATO as 31st Ally

Finland became NATO’s newest member on April 4, 2023, upon depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the United States at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. NATO Allies signed Finland’s Accession Protocol on July 5, 2022, after which all 30 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership.

“We welcome Finland to the Alliance!,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto deposited Finland’s instrument of accession with the government of the United States, represented by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Secretary General then welcomed Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to NATO Headquarters for a flag-raising ceremony to mark the country’s accession to the Alliance.  

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, the Secretary General thanked President Niinistö for his outstanding leadership and for leading Finland into the most successful Alliance in history. “I am deeply proud to welcome Finland as a full-fledged member of our Alliance and I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as soon as possible,” he said. “Joining NATO is good for Finland, it is good for Nordic security and it is good for NATO as a whole,” he added. The Secretary General also noted that Finland’s accession shows the world that President Putin failed to “slam NATO’s door shut.” “Instead of less NATO, he has achieved the opposite; more NATO and our door remains firmly open,” he said. 

The Finnish national anthem and the NATO hymn were played, as Finland’s flag was raised outside NATO Headquarters for the first time, in the presence of President Niinistö, Foreign Minister Haavisto, Defence Minister Kaikkonen, the foreign ministers of all NATO Allies and invitee Sweden. Simultaneous flag-raising ceremonies took place at Allied Command Operations (SHAPE) in Mons (Belgium) and Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia (United States). Standing alongside President Niinistö, the Secretary General said: “Finland is safer and NATO is stronger with Finland as an Ally. Your forces are substantial and highly capable, your resilience is second to none and for many years troops from Finland and NATO countries have worked side-by-side as partners. From today, we stand together as Allies.”

Motorola Solutions Unveils New Avigilon Security Suite, Introduces Avigilon Alta Cloud and Avigilon Unity On-Premise

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) today announced the new Avigilon physical security suite that provides secure, scalable and flexible video security and access control to organizations of all sizes around the world. The Avigilon security suite includes the cloud-native Avigilon Alta and on-premise Avigilon Unity solutions, each powered by advanced analytics and designed to provide an effortless user experience.

Avigilon has been the capstone of Motorola Solutions’ Video Security & Access Control business, which has grown through strategic acquisitions over the past five years to achieve over $1.5 billion in annual sales (2022). The launch of the new Avigilon security suite marks the combination of technologies from three acquisitions – Avigilon (2018), Openpath (2021) and Ava Security (2022) – to create one of the most extensive physical security platforms on the market today, all under a modernized Avigilon brand.

“Individually, Avigilon, Ava Security and Openpath offer excellence in their fields; together, they’re exponentially more powerful,” said John Kedzierski, senior vice president, Video Security & Access Control, Motorola Solutions. “The new Avigilon security suite makes enterprise-grade physical security accessible to businesses of any size, with modular layers of security that can be tailored to protect them from the increasing number and complex nature of threats around the world. It fills a critical void in the market today, bringing together the necessary capabilities to help keep people, property and assets safe.”

Motorola Solutions’ video cameras allow customers to comply with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Sec. 889 and highlights Motorola Solutions’ continued commitment to advancing technologies that protect the nation’s networks and supply chains from equipment that threatens national security.

Avigilon Alta is an entirely cloud-nativesecurity suite that brings together Ava Security’s video portfolio and Openpath’s access control solutions. It requires no infrastructure beyond cameras, controllers and access control readers utilizing cloud infrastructure managed by Motorola Solutions. Avigilon Unity is an on-premise security suite that has all the hallmarks of the original Avigilon portfolio, including Avigilon Control Center, Avigilon Cloud Services and Access Control Manager. It is designed for enterprises that want to manage their own systems.

Both Avigilon Alta and Avigilon Unity feature:

  • Scalable, flexible design for today and the future. The Avigilon security suite can scale as businesses grow, enabling organizations to include multiple sites, cameras and locations that can be operated from anywhere via a browser or mobile device.
  • End-to-end security technology for complete situational awareness. The Avigilon security suite centralizes video security, access control, analytics and decision management into one easy-to-use platform.
  • Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) for proactive security alerts in real-time. The Avigilon security suite helps to make watching live video obsolete with AI-enabled analytics. Automatic alerts are sent to security operators who can securely access the platform from anywhere on any device to gain immediate visibility and insight into a threat.
Biden-Harris Administration Opens Applications for $2.5 Billion Program to Build EV Charging Nationwide

Biden-Harris Administration Opens Applications for $2.5 Billion Program to Build EV Charging Nationwide

The Biden-Harris Administration has opened applications for a new multi-billion-dollar program to fund electric vehicle (EV) charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure in communities across the country and along designated highways, interstates and major roadways. This is a step towards the U.S. President’s goals of building a national network of 500,000 public EV charging stations and reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52% by 2030.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will provide $2.5 billion over five years to a wide range of applicants, including cities, counties, local governments, and Tribes. This round of funding makes up to $700 million from fiscal years 2022 and 2023 funding available to strategically deploy EV charging and other alternative vehicle-fueling infrastructure projects in publicly accessible locations in urban and rural communities, as well as along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs).

“By helping bring EV charging to communities across the country, this Administration is modernizing our infrastructure and creating good jobs in the process,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With today’s announcement, we are taking another big step forward in creating an EV future that is convenient, affordable, reliable, and accessible to all Americans.”

The CFI Discretionary Grant Program builds on the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, for which FHWA published finalized minimum standards earlier this month. EV chargers constructed with CFI funds must adhere to those same standards, a requirement that supports a consistent charging experience for users and ensures that our national charging network is convenient, reliable and made in America.

“Extending EV charging infrastructure into traditionally underserved areas will ensure that equitable and widespread EV adoption takes hold,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Ensuring that charging stations are more visible and accessible in our communities addresses the concerns many American drivers have when considering making the switch to electric.”

Latvia Sends Cars Seized from Drunk Drivers to Ukraine’s Frontline

Latvia Sends Cars Seized from Drunk Drivers to Ukraine’s Frontline

Latvia, which was formerly a part of the Soviet Union, has been sending cars that have been seized from drunk drivers to help the military effort in Ukraine. The country is working with the NGO Twitter Covvoy. Officials in Latvia said the drink-and-drive seized vehicles will be in better hands there and used for logistics.

The vehicles sent from Latvia are said to be offered for use for war supplies and medical transport. Announcing the transfer of the vehicles to Ukraine, the head of the charity, Renys Poznakas, said the vehicles would be in good hands in Ukraine. The first batch of vehicles from Latvia was sent to Ukraine on Friday. They will be given to a hospital of a Ukrainian army unit in Vinnytsia and a medical association in Kupyansk.

Assessing Threats to Tunnel Security and Their Remedies: A TSI Virtual Roundtable

Assessing Threats to Tunnel Security and Their Remedies: A TSI Virtual Roundtable

Around the globe, transportation tunnels play a vital role in keeping rail and vehicular traffic moving efficiently and safely. This is why threats to tunnels are of vast concern to the world economy, and why finding effective ways to mitigate these threats are a top priority for security experts. Simon Brimble and Ian Chaney are two such experts.

Simon Brimble is Arup’s associate director of resilience, security and risk. Arup ( is a consulting firm serving clients who operate tunnels, and designers/contractors who are bidding to build a tunnel. In each case, the company identifies potential threats to tunnel security using a threat and risk assessment process. With this data in hand, Arup then develops a security strategy, including physical, electronic and operational requirements to mitigate the identified threats, which are implemented through the design process.

Ian Chaney

Ian Chaney is WSP’s national business line director of geotechnical and tunneling. WSP ( provides design and engineering services to clients globally for all forms of infrastructure, including tunnels. The company develops des–igns for roadway and transportation tunnel systems that enhance users’ safety and provide protection against potential terrorism, fire and other in-tunnel incidents. WSP also provides integrated electrical and SCADA designs to allow operators flexibility and visibility into their tunnel operations.

Simon Brimble
Simon Brimble

TSI brought both of these experts together for a virtual roundtable on this topic. Here is what they told us:

TSI: What are the major threats confronting tunnel security, and how serious are they?

Chaney: Terrorism, fire and flooding, along with cybersecurity breaches of tunnel traffic and control systems, are the major threats facing tunnel security today.

The primary threat that the industry is worried about is that of an explosive, whether it is someone taking an explosive onto a subway train or into a tunnel through a car.

Fires in tunnels are common, including car fires. In all cases, the main concern is getting passengers safely out of the tunnel. This is why all modern tunnels typically have dedicated egress pathways. If there is a major event within a tunnel, the passengers can exit their cars, get into an emergency pathway that is pressurized so it won’t have smoke or heat that escapes into it, allowing people to escape.

Flooding is typically from tidal events. If you have tunnels in coastal areas and tidal surge pushes water over the design flood elevation, that water just escapes into the tunnel. There was a major tunnel flood during Hurricane Sandy in New York, there was also one in Virginia in the early-2000s, both caused by tidal surge.

Those are the primary physical threats. Obviously, the cyber security threat is always there as well, where hackers can essentially hijack the traffic control systems within the tunnel.

TSI: Are theft and public safety also tunnel security issues?

Brimble: Yes. Bear in mind that tunnel types can range from a short 200m road tunnel through to a significant underground river crossing ­— and they can be used by pedestrians, vehicles or trains. They can also be used to provide utility/infrastructure links between two points, which are largely empty for most of the time.

When it comes to security issues, a tunnel serving utilities where powerlines are delivered underground is most likely to suffer from criminal attacks — either theft of the copper wiring which delivers power or from a malicious organization looking to disrupt power supply to a community.

For a railway tunnel, with the potential for children playing near live rail or its use as a potential evacuation route from a train, security must focus on safety. A transport tunnel is harder to regulate due to the variety of vehicles that may use it; a tunnel transporting passenger vehicles will have a very different demographic from an underground tunnel which the public use to cross a road, and the related risks will be similarly varied. Potential security risks can range from damage from terrorist attacks through to environmental protestors blocking access or thoroughfare.

TSI: So how can tunnel designers and operators mitigate these threats, both through new tunnel design and the rehabilitation of existing tunnels??

Brimble: It all starts with planning before anything happens. To really mitigate risk, the development of security plans against real operations is key.

At Arup, we look at the control room operations as well as the teams that run them. We consider the design of the room and the different tasks required to be undertaken by the operators to maintain safety and security during ongoing and security event. We also provide technical plans that can ensure the room and staff are not overloaded under different operating scenarios. We achieve this by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team which can bring different perspectives ­— from ergonomics and human factors to spatial design — into one cohesive response.

With transport and rail tunnels it is very difficult to predict the potential attack mechanisms so a security plan would comprise of careful thinking around the risk of these threats occurring and mapping the potential operational disruption. At times, these types of identified threats are simply not mitigatable and instead, the risk would be entered into the risk register for the operational team to manage as part of their day-to-day security process.


TSI: Now let’s look at the tunnel threats you have outlined, in terms of what can be done to deal with them. When it comes to terrorist bombs, for instance, can tunnels be hardened to survive such blasts?

Chaney: Yes. Tunnels nowadays can be designed to withstand a blast.
We look at tunnels that transport vehicles, that can be threatened by a car or truck filled with explosives, and we design their connections and segments accordingly. For subway tunnels, we look at a backpack bomb being brought in and what it could do to a tunnel, and we design against it.

TSI: What about fire?

Chaney: The most common way to protect tunnels against fire is by using modern forced ventilation, various fire-proofing products and sprinkler systems. If it is a tunnel that has enough space inside it, we construct these structures inside and then mask them with an interior liner on the tunnel.

Beyond that, the tunnel structure is typically protected with sprinkler systems and fire protection board that goes over the concrete. We don’t want the concrete to get to a temperature that will cause spalling or structural issues. So, we install fire protection board to help with that.

TSI: And flooding?

Chaney: When it comes to flooding, the best way to protect against it is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do this, we raise the portals and provide walls around the tunnel’s other openings to keep water out even in extreme circumstances. So, if the flood elevation for a hundred-year storm is the existing ground elevation plus 10 feet, we make sure that the grading and the walls around the tunnel are built to, say, elevation plus 13 feet. In this way, no storm or surge that we’ve ever seen before can flood a tunnel.

Beyond that, what we can also do is to provide floodgates at the tunnel entrances and exits. So, if those elevations that I mentioned end up being overwhelmed, the tunnel operator can close the gates prior to a flood occurring. Everything outside the tunnel may be flooded, but the tunnel itself will still stay dry until the floodwaters recede.

TSI: What about deterring theft?

Brimble: To mitigate criminal activity, we would look at how to protect access points into the tunnels. This entails developing a strategy that hardens publicly accessible points, in conjunction with a known response time from capable guardians such as the police or security team, that can work to stop the act taking place.

Using a “deter, detect, delay and detain” approach is key. For example, a physical perimeter barrier such as a fence will deter some people. Electronic detection systems can show when a criminal act is happening or about to happen. And hardened access points can delay the success of the act by the perpetrators until a response can be mobilized by either the police or other organization.

Such an “onion skin” approach, where the protected item (e.g., power cables) has many layers of mitigation around it, is the basis of the tunnel’s security resilience. All these mechanisms must be matched to the day-to-day operations of a tunnel so that processes required to uphold the security are not dropped or reduced once in operation.

TSI: And then there’s cyber threats, including the risk of hackers taking over a tunnel’s IT systems and creating traffic chaos or worse. How do you deal with this?

Brimble: Both existing and new tunnel control facilities need to be assessed against current cyber threat and new systems need to be mitigated for against new threats.

Thankfully, more and more organizations are considering getting ahead of a threat rather than simply mitigating. Information or data gleaned from channels such as social media and other online sources can be used to establish any upcoming threats, which can then be specifically planned around or blocked by a security team.

Although cybersecurity is a key area in boosting resilience, doing so in older systems is a challenge. The onus on operators and maintainers to ensure systems are kept up to date is a continuous challenge, particularly where system OEMs did not consider cyber security at earlier stages of design.

TSI: What threats have yet to be fully addressed in tunnel security, and what is being done to address them?

Brimble: Drone attacks are an underestimated area, largely because it is difficult to predict and mitigate against.

With innovation and developments in related areas, tunnels with new functions and user demographics will bring new challenges in security — for example, freight tunnels are likely to be used by unmanned and remotely driven vehicles soon, which will highlight new and very different risks.

TSI: All told, is it realistically possible to fully protect tunnels from attacks, or is it a case of doing the best that can be done?

Chaney: As tunnels typically allow for public use, they cannot be completely protected against attacks. However, mitigation measures can be imparted such that security threats will not render a tunnel facility useless after an attack, but rather allow it to return to full service after a short amount of time and allow it to retain some amount of limited service during and after a security event.

Brimble: I don’t believe it is possible to fully protect a tunnel from attacks. This is why at Arup we adopt a risk-based approach that allows us to identify all of them and then implement a management plan which covers all bases as much as possible. Some risks are simply not mitigatable; for example, protest groups are dynamic and unpredictable, while terrorist threat defence requires the intelligence community to constantly share data that is up to date and timely. These are very complex environments.

As well, even the best of security plans are not infallible. If a strategy relies on electronic or physical systems that are then not reflected in the operational plan or simply not implemented by the daily security team, that is a shortcoming which will directly impact the security of the tunnel.

TSI: All this being said, are tunnels more secure than people commonly imagine them to be?

Chaney: I think tunnels are extremely secure.
For instance, a lot of people are afraid of getting trapped in a tunnel or having a tunnel flood quickly from waters above it. Those are Hollywood-type scenarios. A lot of tunnels have egress passageways that are dedicated to get people out of a tunnel in the emergency, and the probability of having a tunnel flood while someone is in it is almost basically none.

Boost Security, NOT COSTS

Boost Security, NOT COSTS

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 ( “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.”

Shannon Wandmaker
Shannon Wandmaker

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.”

Rebecca Sherouse
Rebecca Sherouse

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.”

The HiveWatch GSOC Operating System is a cloud-based security fusion platform that works with existing security systems to empower global security operations center workers. The system, built for physical security teams, simplifies information gathering from numerous security systems using multi-sensor resolution and machine learning, the company says. HiveWatch images.
The HiveWatch GSOC Operating System is a cloud-based security fusion platform that works with existing security systems to empower global security operations center workers. The system, built for physical security teams, simplifies information gathering from numerous security systems using multi-sensor resolution and machine learning, the company says. HiveWatch images.

Global View

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 (, 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.

Frederick Reitz
Frederick Reitz

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.

Security, Facilitation, Disability, Discrimination: What Happens When Security and Disability Collide

Security, Facilitation, Disability, Discrimination: What Happens When Security and Disability Collide

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.

Disabled Passenger

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.”

That seems like a reasonable request.