In recent interviews on Denver’s Fox 31 News and on 9News, I tried to answer the most commonly asked question whenever there is a security incident: “How can we improve the system?” A good follow up question to that is: “At what point does all this security just cost too much?” The answers to both of these questions are interrelated.
At some point, security will cost too much. It will cost too much money, too much time and too much of a compromise of our civil rights. The solution is to improve the system through a strategy of reducing the number of people that we our looking at.
Whole Body Imagers can be effective but they take up a lot of space, may need stronger floors to sit upon and there may be additional power requirements. To replace all of the metal detectors in the U.S. will be costly in terms of both money and security wait times.
Advanced x-ray machines are being deployed and testing is being conducted on using EDS machines at the passenger screening checkpoints. Again, this is all expensive technology and still doesn’t address the fundamental issue, which is, let’s look at those people who really should be looked at and with additional scrutiny, rather than treating everyone the same in terms of a security threat.
Passenger screening checkpoints should be a mix of technologies that have lesser detection capabilities and those technologies that have higher detection capabilities. The “lesser” machines are used to screen those passengers who, through pre-clearance when they book their flight, the travel document check and through behavior profiling are deemed low risk threats. The “higher” machines are used for those individuals that are deemed (through the aforementioned processes) high risk threats.
We do not need to keep screening every piece of hay in the haystack looking for the needle. It’s expensive in every sense. We need to sift through the hay first, with layered, proven processes that identify those pieces that may be needles, then test them with technology to be sure. That is how you implement effective security without putting the costs through the sky.