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SAFETY & SECURITY Last modified on October 3, 2016

Never standing still

ACI World’s head of security, Nina Brooks, reflects on the organisation’s security goals, industry challenges and new initiatives designed to make the world’s airports safer.

There is no doubt that the threat from terrorism is changing and that airports remain high profile targets as the terror attacks in Brussels and Istanbul earlier this year have demonstrated.

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.

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. 

With recent attacks on the public areas of airports in Brussels and Istanbul, 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. 

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.  

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. 

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