The “Innovation in Security” Session at WAGA gathered a fantastic panel to discuss whether we can, and should, keep adding layers of checks to our already crowded security checkpoints. Speakers included Emma Boulby, Executive General Manager, Airport Operations at Adelaide Airport; Daniel Goh, Assistant President at NUCTECH; Ben Smith, Group Manager, Strategic Development at Aviation Security Service New Zealand; and Simon Wilcox, Programme Manager Automation at Heathrow Airport.
In the short term, Computed Tomography (CT) offers a lot of promise because of its ability to detect objects of interest, particularly explosives, in 3D. Emma Boulby shared her experience since Australia will be introducing CT in the next years under some aggressive timelines.
Airports can also look at pooling resources by sharing x-ray images through a wide area network, something that New Zealand AVSEC is looking into which brings to mind the remote control tower concept. Manufacturers such as NUCTECH are working to introduce artificial intelligence to their offering, to make it possible for the machine to automatically detect certain items such as weapons.
In the longer term, Simon Wilcox shared his view that advanced biometrics and enhanced data exchange should provide a more secure travel industry, one that does not rely on a single “checkpoint” and is more risk-based than today.
Risk-based security is gradually becoming a reality, but to overcome people’s aversion to risk, it will most likely gain traction by starting on higher risk populations. Speakers agreed that in the end, the best screening machines are just tools, and that they will need to be complemented by humans.