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Airport Security Should Not be a Game of Cat and Mouse

The procedure is all too familiar. Get your boarding pass, proceed to the security checkpoint, a TSA officer inspects your pass and ID (usually highlighting and initialing it), remove your shoes, place your belongings in a plastic tub and send it through the x-ray machine, pass through a metal detector or a millimeter-wave scanner or both, grab your belongings on the other side of the conveyer belt, put your shoes on, and you’re finally on your way…welcome to the airport!

Like Lemmings, we do this same pattern each and every time we board an airplane, but think about this: Airport aggressors are smart, savvy and highly-sophisticated individuals who have typically spent many hours studying and observing what is considered typical behavior in an airport environment, and have compared this data to the airport’s layers of security.

So, what does this mean for your safety and security at the airport?

Well, in order to keep you safe, all entities that make up airport security must be ready at a moment’s notice should a threat or attack present itself. Sounds pretty reasonable.

But, what if at a moment’s notice a new security activity could be introduced into the airport environment? Wouldn’t the element of surprise and randomness force the adversary to rethink or have to pause and refigure his or her next move?

Based on the game theory, a mathematical configuration of how two intelligent entities interact, the Stackelberg game says that security agencies must act first. What is proposed here is an airport security strategy of systematic, intelligent randomness, where a schedule is created that randomizes the deployment of security resources, keeping the “bad guys on their toes” at all times.

For example, consider K-9 units randomly showing up at different locations throughout the whole airport. This visually demonstrates that security is “everywhere,” communicating to the “bad guys” that they never know what to expect, so all their plans of attack are basically null and void.

Do you think this is a satisfactory way to provide airport security? Or, do you think more security personnel should be hired? What other ideas do you have to provide proper airport security?


Posted by Ginger Hill

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