Many challenging questions face transportation security professionals gearing up to attend the forthcoming Transport Security Expo at London Olympia in September.
With the news agenda having been dominated by multiple headline grabbing incidents during the course of the year, the industry appears still to be on the back foot in delivering real world solutions to protect the aviation, maritime and supply chain sectors from those with the intent to do harm in pursuit of political goals, religious belief or plain old greed.
Spotlight on aviation security The year began with the fallout from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed bombing of NWA 253 on Christmas Day.
Mr. Abdulmutallab succeeded in doing what the public is constantly told is impossible to do; he carried the components of a high-explosive bomb through security at three airports and aboard three aircrafts.
His intent was to blow up NWA 253 on its approach into Detroit Metropolitan Airport, but the self assembled device didn’t detonate.
A series of quick fixes to the intelligence gathering methodology, watch-listing regime, airport technological capability and operational procedures very quickly followed.
Nevertheless, the system was found wanting again in May when Faisal Shahzad almost escaped justice after attempting to explode a car bomb in Time Square.
Mr. Shazad was able to book a last minute one-way flight by cellphone, pay in cash on arrival at the airport, clear immigration and security and board the Dubai bound EK 202 with nobody as much as batting an eyelid despite the fact he was under surveillance and watch-listed.
It was by dint of good fortune rather than design that his flight was recalled from the runway threshold for him to be taken into custody.
Incidents such as these serve to emphasise an overwhelming feeling in some circles that the aviation security regime is in need of much more than the band-aid tinkering often applied when incidents that shouldn’t happen any longer actually do happen.
The issues demonstrated by these two incidents will inevitably direct debate at Transport Security Expo and almost certainly focus down on the procedural, technological and human factor failures that conspired to let them occur.
Carefully thought out rules and regulations as well as the best hardware money can buy, can very easily be rendered next to useless by the mistakes that people make.
These are the issues that have bedevilled the delivery of effective security for an awful long time and have re-emerged just at a time when the sector is looking at how best to make long-lasting changes to the measures currently in place and deliver enhanced protection in the years to come.
Transport Security Expo’s aviation security conference, brings together a team of eminent and highly skilled speakers who will share their thinking on how best to protect people and assets from those who wish to do harm both now and in the future.
The key themes of conference are: • Ensuring passenger security • Delivering effective facilities security • Enhancing the overall civil aviation security architecture • New solutions to emerging threats • Overcoming the human factor/technology disconnect
With the European Union (EU) having recently published new regulation intended to significantly bolster civil aviation security in the years to come, conference delegates will also benefit from a detailed briefing on the changes afoot and what they mean for airport and airline operations.
One significant change is in regard to the carriage of Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) goods by passengers. EU regulation requires that all airports deploy solutions capable of determining whether such products are harmful or benign by latest April 2013.
The hardware backbone that has been the mainstay of aviation security for very many years was found to have reached its limits of capability when the transatlantic bomb plot emerged on the world stage just over four years ago.
The aviation security world has thus begun to mirror the computer industry world in a very real sense, in so much as bare bones hardware demands high end software to realise its true potential.
Primary exhibitors Optosecurity Inc., the highly specialised Canadian vendor with a very specific focus in enabling conventional hardware to perform complex threat analysis, is one of the primary exhibitors at Transport Security Expo.
The company’s principal solution, XMS™, delivers a real time Liquid, Aerosol, Gel (LAG) and concealed weapon threat detection capability, in both a standalone and integrated configuration. Regarded by some as the enabling solution to meeting threats faced well into the future, XMS is a real world product with significant scalability.
PICASO™, a development effort to bring the Optosecurity XMS core technologies to L3 Communication’s ProVision™ ATD (Automatic Threat Detection) systems, provides a complete non-imaging personnel screening solution to protect passenger privacy. Portal Image Contextual Analysis Software (PICASO™) is being designed to enhance the next generation automatic detection performance and improve target recognition.
Kromek, another vendor with a significant role to play in Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) detection, also exhibits at Transport Security Expo.
EU regulation requires that threats identified in the primary screen of passenger hand baggage be verified at a secondary level. The Bottle Scanner™ product offered by Kromek provides that mandated capability and could also be a cost effective primary standalone solution for smaller airports with much lower passenger throughput.
These two companies represent the new breed of vendor delivering highly advanced solutions to meet current and future threats head-on.
All of the major security system providers including Rapiscan, Smiths Detection, L3 Communications, Honeywell, Varian Medical Systems and many others have a strong exhibitor presence at this year’s event.
Piracy dogs maritime sector The maritime sector has been grappling all year with a big upswing in the number of pirate attacks within the key shipping lanes around the Horn of Africa and the wider Indian Ocean region.
The upswing prompted the Operation Commander EU Naval Force (Navfor), Rear Admiral Peter Hudson, to state publicly that pirate activity in March alone was double that of the three months from September to November last year.
With significant tonnage being seized and held to ransom by the pirates operating in these waters and naval forces spread thinly, the maritime industry is facing a very real dilemma in how best to deliver protection in this commercially critical region.
Self help is seen as the most viable option available and to that end The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Shipping Centre (NSC) will hold a unique tactical floor exercise at this year’s Transport Security Expo. The exercise will follow a vessels’ voyage from departure in Rotterdam to the attack point in the Gulf of Aden, through its capture and on to its eventual release.
This highly specialised full-day exercise offers much in the way of both mission critical and real world advice designed to aid in the safe passage of shipping through such pirate infested waters.
Delegates attending this tactical floor exercise will discover: • What can be done to deter piracy • The level of support that can be expected from military forces in the area • How to prepare prior to departure • The legal implications of armed/unarmed security • What to expect if boarded and what actions should be taken • The process of negotiation
The EU has acknowledged that the pirate threat in the Horn of Africa region is “an expanding phenomenon”, both in terms of level of activity and range. This tactical floor exercise is therefore a mission critical event for those in the merchant marine operating in a threat area not only around the Horn of Africa but well into the Indian Ocean.
This exercise is complimented by the regular International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conference focusing on the wider maritime security issues including law enforcement and port security.
Supply chain discord With the requirement to screen 100 per cent of international air cargo bound for the United States now a fact of life and Europe thus thrown into catch-up mode, considerable discussion at Transport Security Expo will focus on this vexed issue and how best to meet US requirements without creating major bottlenecks at airports.
Recently published EU regulation incorporates the tough new US requirements but Ekhard Seebohm, head of aviation security at the European Commission (EC) admits that compliance places some huge challenges on the aviation industry and its supply chain.
Seebohm is on record stating that the US may just have to an accept an alternative (such as sniffer dogs) to x-raying every item of belly-hold freight, given that the piece level 100 per cent screening requirement favoured by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), could potentially bring air-freight movement between Europe and the US to a grinding halt if a hardware only solution were to be rigidly enforced.
Principal speakers from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Association of European Airlines (AEA), Swissport, CEVA Logistics, Cargolux and DHL amongst others, will be on hand to share knowledge and invite in-depth discussion on achieving a 100 per cent cargo screening regime within a one-stop security environment.
Workshops deliver specific focus Transport Security Expo will also deliver a range of free to attend workshops for delegates covering the following very specific themes: • Security Cargo • Perimeter Protection & Intrusion Detection • Passenger Security & Facilitation • Terminal Security.
These half day workshops are intended to immerse delegates in issues prevalent within each area and give insight into technological solutions and their capabilities.
Transport Security Expo workshops add significant knowledge and value.
With exhibitor and delegate numbers already substantially up on previous years, Transport Security Expo 2010 looks set to break records as it takes centre stage at London Olympia, 14-15 September 2010.