Danger Close
Lead Editorial

Danger Close

Danger close is a military phrase used in battle when forward and directing fire onto an enemy. As we come into this new year, the term has never been more relevant in the world at large than now in so much that is happening around the world.

We are faced with a pandemic disease that doesn’t play fair — leading to inexplicable deaths for some and cold symptoms for others — that is also mutating. Fortunately, we have good vaccines that are working — as long as people choose to get them. We are faced with a continued threat of this illness but many are moving on regardless of the status of the disease’s progress. For most it is a matter of survival: jobs, work, earning a living must continue, especially for those at the financial edge.

We now have a madman invading a sovereign country with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What can he be thinking? The lives of the 44 million people of Ukraine have been turned upside down with the chaos of war for no reason. And this aggression is surely causing ripple effect worries for other former members of the Soviet bloc.

As in all times of uncertainty, transportation is playing a key role. As Ukrainian women, children and elderly flee the country, trains, planes and automobiles are the key to their escape. Neighboring nations such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and others are receiving thousands of refugees daily. Poland’s Prime Ministry tweeted: “Attack civilians, inflict suffering on women and children, undermine democratic freedom: that is Putin’s policy. We’re fighting it on every front. Today I spoke about humanitarian aid with EEA ambassadors in Poland and fighting RU disinformation with Google CEO.”

Images of Ukrainian refugees pouring into rail stations, airports and bus stations are everywhere — and thank goodness these modes of transport are bringing people to safety.

One clear ripple effect that is causing pain around the globe is rising fuel prices. The economic sanctions put in place against Russia have led to increased pain at the pump, even for those on the other side of the world from where the madness is happening.

Just as we began to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, this conflict, less than a month old, has already caused multiple problems in transportation and supply chain with aviation shipping, rail and road all impacted.

As we prepared to send this issue to the printer, we took a look at some key areas to see what is happening. Let me highlight a few of the stories. Safe parking for trucks is sorely lacking all over the world and it is needed now more than ever. We are pushing drivers harder and further as the supply chain bends and breaks under the intense pressure it has been put under during the pandemic. These drivers need rest and a safe place to do that. Maneuvering a massive vehicle is not easy especially in areas that are not built to receive them. With heightened security concerns over the safety of the drivers and their cargo, more needs to be done to solve this dilemma. There are some companies working on it – learn more in our cover story on safe truck parking on page 36.

We take a look at the advancement of X-ray technology for airport luggage and people screening. Advancements have been made and they include software-driven artificial intelligence along with its focused self-improvement process, machine learning (AI/ML). We see how this technology is supercharging airport screening systems in this piece by James Careless.

We are grateful to former ASI Editor Philip Baum, who is back in this issue with a look at what really matters in avsec as the world seemingly tumbles out of control. He shows how being influenced by primary-recency, such as a 9/11 or a shoe bomber event, can make us in the security industry succumb to considering the most recent news we have heard as being indicative of the preeminent threats. But, Baum says, we need to focus on the next thing coming, the unknown. How? Training will be crucial. See more of his thoughts and suggestions starting on page 20.

We continue our two-part story on coastal surveillance by Mario Pierobon. This second of the two-part series looks at the increasing use of unmanned systems for this purpose. Big data and artificial intelligence will also play a larger role, as they do for so many areas of technological development. Learn how in this story starting on page 28.

And finally, let me call your attention to our story on the cyber challenges in the rail transportation industry. Experts call cyberattacks on the rail system “relentless.” How are they coping? What have we learned from the attacks on other areas of critical national infrastructure? The hackers have shifted from a ransomware tactic — corrupting a computer network’s code to lock out vital components like file servers, then demanding a substantial payment from the network’s owner to unlock those components — to a “double extortion” scheme of demanding payment for unlocking and then a second payoff demand to refrain from publicly releasing confidential information. Learn more in Jim McKenna’s fascinating look at the cyberthreats facing rail systems.

Stay safe everyone, even as danger comes closer and closer in so many different forms.