Integrated processes, technology to ensure safety

Nina Brooks, ACI World’s Head of Security.

Nina Brooks, ACI World’s Head of Security.

Growing passenger numbers and resources needs call for a paradigm shift towards a collaborative effort between all stakeholders. Greater emphasis should be placed on automating and adoption of technology.

It goes without saying that maintaining the safety and security of the travelling public is the top priority for airports and it involves multiple layers of integrated processes and technologies to detect threats and/or mitigate risks. 

The changing variables of threat, growing passenger numbers and limitations on resources calls for a paradigm shift towards a genuinely risk managed approach and a collaborative effort between all stakeholders. The key activities being undertaken by ACI all contribute to addressing these challenges, said Nina Brooks, ACI World’s Head of Security. 

The joint International Aviation Transport Association (IATA)/ACI Smart Security programme provides an example of how a more sustainable, efficient and effective passenger screening process can be implemented to strengthen security, increase operational efficiency and improve the passenger experience. 

One of the next key items on the agenda is to conduct further research into how different methods of risk-based differentiation can be best applied. Other technologies are also being tested such as automated systems to further enhance the screener’s threat detection capability. 

The need to protect landside areas has once again been brought sharply into focus. More screening is not the answer; moving queues to other areas of the terminal simply shifts the vulnerability. However, removing queues and crowds makes the target far less attractive. 

ACI plans to work with IATA on the smarter design of processes that reduce passenger touchpoints and eliminate queues throughout the passenger journey. 

“Alongside this project, we will also continue to work collaboratively with the ACI regions to develop guidance material in support of landside security, including behaviour detection, surveillance and security culture, as well as advocating for better intelligence and information sharing. 

“Our capacity building activities help to ensure that all of the layers of security are applied globally and consistently. A solid risk management approach, good training and a robust security culture is needed everywhere,” she said. 

By raising the bar on security in all airports, the overall system becomes more secure and efficient as additional measures such as gate screening for specific flights and the rescreening of transfer passengers can start to be eliminated. Aimed specifically at airports, ACI World has recently completed the first pilot of its Airport Excellence (APEX) in Security initiative and hopes to be able to launch the programme in full early next year. 

The intention of the programme is to enable airports in need of assistance to benefit from the experience of others. 

Through actively working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its key working groups of the Aviation Security Panel, ACI will be able to represent airport interests and advocate for regulation that takes into account airports’ needs and limitations. 

“This is a key area of work and we will continue to contribute actively to ICAO standards, recommended practices and guidance material.

“The development of airport best practices and provision of training enables us to support capacity building efforts. This will be a priority in coming years, enabling ACI to broaden its outreach and help airports to implement the most appropriate measures for their environment,” said David Gamper, ACI World’s Director of Safety. 

ACI’s strategy in security, focusing on the delivery of best practices, capacity building and collaboration between airport, airline and government stakeholders, aims to create a more sustainable and well-rounded security system that meets the needs of our airports for the future. 

Drivers for change

A number of key areas have been identified as drivers for change and in many cases these are dependent on each other, such as process improvement for identity management, which needs a combination of regulatory change, the use of automation and the better use of data. 

There are already many initiatives that identify self-service solutions throughout the passenger journey, including check-in, bag drop, self-tagging, re-booking and boarding processes. 

Automation and technology

Greater use of automation for processes such as the collection of biometrics, automated document verification and payment of departure taxes would enable processes to be implemented at remote locations, off-airport or using mobile technologies. 

Arguably greater emphasis should also be placed on either automating and eliminating processes or moving them away from the airport completely. Remote/mobile check-in and printing baggage tags at home already provide examples of this and perhaps one day there will be no need to use any on-site check-in technology. 

Another area where technology is starting to play a key role is in the provision of timely information for passengers. Knowing security wait times in advance of travel courtesy of mobile applications, for example, can actually change the way people behave at airports. 

And this type of technology offers further opportunities to streamline passenger journeys and subsequently the habits of airport visitors. Knowing the approximate time it will take passengers to get from their arrivals gate to kerbside, for instance, could enable those picking them up to arrive at the airport/terminal at a more appropriate time. 

Apex programme

In the context of airport safety, ACI has conceived and implemented a programme called ACI Airport Excellence (Apex) designed to provide assistance for ACI members to improve their level of safety and compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices. 

“Since the programme’s launch, we have had close to 60 reviews performed worldwide and have built a pool of over 130 safety assessors from over 60 different airports and international organisations,” said Danny Boutin, ACI World’s Senior Manager, APEX Programmes. 

It offers host airports an on-site safety review performed by the ACI Safety Review Team, consisting of active airport professionals. The team identifies safety gaps and develops an action/ implementation plan to address these gaps, helping the host airport achieve certification if need be. 

ACI also assists throughout the implementation phase by providing support, training and access to a global network of expertise. 

“Apex will be placing more emphasis on data collection. While remaining confidential, collected data from our missions will help identify safety gaps and areas of improvement in each of the regions, enabling ACI to better target the needs for assistance and create the most appropriate training. 

“It will also provide valuable information for the ACI Safety and Technical Standing Committee to evaluate the need for handbooks and other tools such as best practices for the benefit of the industry at large,” he said.