ASIS Education Session Discusses The Layered Security Approach At O’Hare International Airport

An interesting panel at ASIS 2013 on Wednesday discussed the massive undertaking of providing a layered security approach at O'Hare International Airport.

One of the world's busiest airports, O'Hare covers more than 10,000 acres and sees an astounding amount of passengers per year - 66.5 million.

Kathleen Petrowsky, TSA's federal security director for the airport, said the layered approach to securing the airport begins when a passenger makes their airline reservations.

"The TSA is expanding the Pre-Check program for different levels of security," she said. "We're moving to a risk-based concept."

Thomas Herion with Chicago Department of Aviation Safety said the massive airport is difficult to secure.

"It's not a prison," he said. "People are moving around freely. It's a very difficult place to secure. We have to be aggressive with our cameras and preventive measures to make sure we don't have a disaster. We like to be proactive and get intelligence before hand so we can respond to it."

Both Herion and Petrowsky said coordinating good relationships with the various agencies tasked with securing the airport is important. Communication with other airports is also another way to improve security.

Herion also indicated that the key challenge in securing the facility is funding.

"We need money," he said "It's often a tough time to finance it. Who will pay for it? We have raised the bar after putting technology like biometrics and license plate recognition into play. We look for DHS to fund us through grants and other initiatives. We also go to the airlines for money to help modernize the technology."

Even though technology is a important part of providing security for the airport, Herion said that the human factor is more important.

"Our greatest asset are our people," he said. "You can have all the technology in the world, but it's the people that drive security. They are the intelligence aspect. You need to keep people engaged, letting them know how important they are and give them the tools they need to do their job. They are more important than any camera or alarm."

About the Author

Brent Dirks is senior e-news/Web editor for Security Products and Network-Centric Security magazines.

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