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Improving aviation security is a balance between training and technology


PORTLAND, Ore.—The Obama administration’s review of security measures at the nation’s airports and the subsequent ordering of security directives to further enhance safety has put the industry in a bit of tailspin about how to best protect the flying public. And this effort comes amidst increasing public scrutiny and skepticism about aviation security efforts.

Bouncers given direct line to police

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I know you've read it over and over here at SDN, but frankly, I don't think the subject of private-public partnerships could ever be discussed enough. While this collaboration was made 'official' not long ago with the partnership between ASIS and IACP, two of the largest associations representing private and public entities, there just can't be enough examples of folks making this a reality.

Here's an interesting story out of West Palm Beach, which as you might know, has quite the party scene. The local clubs and businesses have partnered with police and are being issued radios so they can communicate directly with law enforcement instead of having to call 911 when there's an incident.

What a concept. I envision that bouncers, for example, when faced with a situation that they're unable to handle, will be able to quickly and easily contact the nearest officer for assistance. According to the article, the West Palm Beach PD has an 'entertainment district unit' who are stationed in the vicinity and would be able to respond quickly.

But, apparently, West Beach isn't the first to try this out:

Maale said he got the idea from San Francisco, where many bars are in contact with each other via radios, but he wanted to take it to the next level and have them directly contact police.

Frankly, it doesn't seem like that much of an innovative concept, especially in the world of technology that we live in, yet the precedent it sets is fairly forward thinking. After all, I think most of us would agree that it's imperative for private security to partner directly with law enforcement so everyone can do their job better.

Will smartphones be used to detect chemicals?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I just read a very cool article about the development of a sensor that can be plugged into an iPhone and used by first responders to detect chemicals in the air. If chemicals like ammonia, chlorine gas and methane register on the phone, personnel can send the information directly to the appropriate people. This is obviously pretty cool and useful for responding agencies, but here's an even crazier concept:

Homeland Security hopes to eventually see such sensing chips embedded in everybody's cell phone, so that the mobile devices could form a huge chemical-alert network wherever people go.

I haven't checked the validity of this statement with anyone from DHS, but talk about a visionary concept. If everyone's phone could detect chemicals in the air, it would not only alert people that the area is unsafe, but it would help first responders focus their efforts on the most critical areas first.

And while I like the concept of the public playing a role in crisis response, I do have some initial hesitation about the implementation of such technology. I assume it would be the discretion of the user about when and how often such a sensor would work (the article briefly addresses this in terms of it's effect on battery life), but there's something that concerns me about my phone being used for purposes other than my personal use. The article also mentioned that the sensor could not only identify chemicals by name, but also detect chemical concentration, humidity and temperature. I guess I would need to know more about the logistics of such a technology before I would consider adding it to my phone. Plus, no matter how fancy this sensor is, it'll never be as cool as the flute app.

Airports to integrate Wii?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Especially coming off a big show like ASIS, it's easy to get overwhelmed by technology. Things like analytics, GUIs, encoders, and the like have occasionally caused my brain to shut down. However, this article brings security to the common folk.

According to CNN, DHS has begun a $20 million pilot program to test various technologies to determine if someone at an airport is displaying physiological signs that may indicate they are up to no good.

The Homeland Security-funded project is Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST. Instead of focusing on whether you have hidden explosives or whether you're carrying a weapon, sensors and cameras located at security checkpoints would measure the natural signals coming from your body -- your heart rate, breathing, eye movement, body temperature and fidgeting.

So, they must be using high-profile sensors to identify such things right? Nope. All but one of the sensors are commercially available including the use of Nintendo Wii's balance board. Passengers stand on the board, which measures if they're unnaturally shifting their weight, and determines whether they require secondary screening. That's pretty neat. Maybe they'll eventually just plug in Wii Ski while I wait to go through the security line - that could certainly lighten the mood and make the screening process a whole lot more entertaining.