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IATA Designs Security Checkpoint of the Future and It Looks Pretty Good

Every time I talk security here, there are always a few comments asking to focus on a better solution instead of just criticizing what we have. We’ve batted around ideas before in comments, but now we actually have a concrete proposal from none other than the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and I like what I see.

You have to love IATA for being incredibly outspoken on all things aviation. I’m going to really miss Director General Giovanni Bisignani when he moves on, because that guy fears nothing. He says whatever is on his mind and provides a welcome voice of levity (with a hint of insanity). So now, IATA is trying to tackle the security problem, saying that we need to shift our focus from finding just “bad objects” to finding “bad people.”

IATA is also practical, so it’s put together two proposals. The first would be a temporary fix that would use existing equipment to refocus as much as possible. But the second is the true checkpoint of the future idea. Let’s look at that one.

IATA Checkpoint of the Future

Looks cool, right? Here’s a step-by-step process of how it will work.

  1. You make your reservation giving background details as you do today. But while that background detail is kept behind the scenes in today’s system, security screeners would now be able to see relevant information in order to determine threat potential.
  2. When you’re ready to fly, you go up to the screening area and give a thumbprint, retina scan, or some sort of biometric indicator to identify you.
  3. At this point, you will be directed automatically to go through one of three security lanes. During this process, screeners will be doing behavioral detection. If necessary, they can come up and ask questions as well. In the end, you’ll move into the system as they see fit.
  4. The three security lanes will be divided into a known traveler lane, a normal security lane, and an enhanced security lane. You’ll walk down a long tunnel in the lane you’re directed to and screening of you and your bags will occur while you’re walking through. (This is a vision since I don’t think this machine exists yet.) The body scanners of today will not be used for primary screening. They will be secondary screening for those who need a more in-depth look.
  5. If there’s something that sets off the security guys, then you’ll have to go through secondary screening. Otherwise, you’re on your way with shoes, liquids, and laptops intact.
  6. Sounds like a pretty good plan, huh? It speeds things up by putting people into different lanes based on threat potential. Then it really speeds things up by not making you disrobe as you walk through. This, of course, a long term plan, but even the short term plan gets the right elements in place to start using the data that’s being collected for screening purposes.

    The wildcard, in my mind, is the ability of the screeners. If you want people to do real threat detection using critical thinking and multiple tools, your going to have to start paying screeners more to get the highest caliber of worker. I think this needs to happen anyway, but it’s something that will have to be factored in to a budget.

    Overall, this plan make a lot more sense to me than what we’re doing today.

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