Road Warriors Want Increased Security
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Nov 01, 2008
Transportation security probably receives the highest
profile media attention of any industry in the
country. It’s at the front gate of airport travel, and
there’s a lot of people flying around the country these
days. In fact, I’ve been a little critical of checkpoints in the
past; now I’m rethinking my security opinions.
Case in point comes from Barclaycard Business, who
for the past 12 years has conducted a business travel survey.
The company is located in the United Kingdom and
recently examined responses from British executives
about their perception of transportation security.
Despite an increased media focus on international
security, today’s business travelers feel safe when traveling.
In fact, 91 percent indicated they feel safe on business
travel, due mostly to the existing security measures
in place at points of departure, such as airports.
“These results confirm that while security is a key
concern for business travelers, British executives on the
whole welcome increased measures put in place by governments
and organizations,” said Denise Leleux, director
of commercial cards at Barclaycard Business. “The
business traveler is by necessity quite resilient and continues
to travel despite international security concerns,
as the increase in travel this year has demonstrated.”
I couldn’t agree more. Airplanes are full and security
lines are jam packed, and everyone is getting a second
look as they approach security checkpoints and aircraft.
Research and development for airport security is at an alltime
high. During ASIS 2008 in Atlanta, I learned about
new products that will assist in securing the nation’s airport
For example, Smiths Detection’s FirstView iSC3 security
platform. This is an intelligent sensor command used
on a control and communications platform that offers
real-time access to controllable cameras, sensors, tracking
systems and maps using any type of networked PC,
including wireless laptops, tablet PCs or hand-held PCs.
What impressed me most is a conversation with Mark
Laustra, vice president of homeland security at Smiths,
who said the real-time access is the backbone that manages
all the sensors from one area. The software ties it all
together. When a sensor detects something is amiss, a
camera is trained on that sight to determine the extent of
the problem. The idea, at least part in parcel, is to protect
the emergency responder so they know what to expect as
they near the area in question.
Smiths also brings to the security table the launch
of the multimode threat detector. This portable device
detects a range of explosives, even those most commonly
used in homemade bombs. Besides explosives,
the MMTD can sniff out chemical warfare agents,
toxic industrial chemicals and narcotics and has
the capability to detect peroxides used in improvised
explosive devices. Application of this device works
well for law enforcement or even a mailroom or an air
From the Barclaycard survey, almost half of the respondents
(48 percent) said they would like to see enhanced
measures on other forms of transport, and nearly 80 percent
of respondents felt that security on the United
Kingdom’s national rail system could be improved. By
contrast, only 9 percent feel that further protective measures
should be introduced to the London Underground.
We don’t hear much about rail transportation in the
United States, but security is alive and well there too.
Amtrak is interconnected at thousands of points covering
nearly 21,000 miles nationwide and has in place
numerous behind-the-scenes and front-line security
measures to improve passenger rail security. These
measures are conducted on an unpredictable basis.
Amtrak has its own police force, and officials have
increased patrols at major stations, including patrols with
K-9 detection teams. Mobile security teams were dispatched
in February to randomly patrol stations and
trains. The rail carrier also conducts random screening of
passengers and inspection of carry-on items.
Amtrak officials say predictable security can be
exploited, so the unpredictable rotation of mobile security
teams creates surprise in their ability to deter and
detect potential threats. Perhaps the one asset that Amtrak uses best is asking their nearly 19,000 employees
to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity.
Unlike the airlines, who profess to allow only two
carry-on bags, Amtrak officials say they strictly enforce
the baggage limits as passengers board the train.
Oversized bags should be part of precautionary
checks. Barclaycard said the 82 percent of their respondents
were happy to undergo a precautionary check,
though 10 percent said it was unnecessary. The survey
also noted that individuals at a senior level were less tolerant
of security precautions, with 17 percent of CEOs
suggesting that airport checks were a waste of time.
The survey revealed that older employees were more
concerned about their health than with security. Younger
business travelers (46 percent) were more concerned about
personal security than older geezers like myself.
This article originally appeared in the issue of .