In his latest blog for Infologue.com, David Ward of Ward Security discusses modern society and targets. David writes: “Airports are an unfortunate necessity. They are transition points in our travel for business and pleasure and we are stuck with them. The image most of us have of airports is of places that are busy, expensive, confusing, and very often stressful. This image is made worse when external forces conspire to delay us and force us to stay longer than anticipated.
“This year, an IT failure by British Airways was accompanied by extensive media coverage and footage of packed check-in halls. This image of fed-up travellers confined to queues is one we typically see every year when there are strikes by air traffic controllers or staff. But while we can all sympathise, we must, as a society, also start to be concerned for the safety of people forced to gather like this at sensitive locations.
“As we are seeing all-to-often, the mode of operation of terrorism is evolving. They are staring to better understand where the easy targets are.
“Recently, the easy targets have been people going about their business on the streets, and the weapons used to create mayhem have been cars and vans. At the same time terrorists are showing no guilt in attacking busy events like concerts using more traditional weapons on terrorism. We can only guess where the future targets will be, but nowhere appears to be off-limits for this evil.
“We need to start seeing where the vulnerabilities are, just as the terrorists do, and we need to start evolving our defence strategies.
“Packed airport concourses and check-in areas are clearly vulnerable. While security makes it extremely difficult to target areas beyond the check-in desks and departure gates, the areas prior to these are perhaps not as well defended as they could be.
“There is little or no security or checks as you actually enter an airport and mill around the concourse, food halls, and check-in queues. These are the areas where we should feel less safe and are the areas we now need to focus our efforts on. The vast majority of people walking through the doors are pulling large items of luggage, so the threat should be obvious.
“The challenge of making airports, and indeed other locations, completely secure is considerable. Concert venues, airports, sports venues etc all feature security at some stage, but there are areas before you reach the secured areas that need to be re-thought.
“How do we introduce security to these outlying areas without making the experience even more stressful, difficult or unpleasant? We can’t have thousands of people queueing in the rain waiting to pass security and actually enter a building, and indeed, such a queue would itself present a target.
“It’s a very difficult problem, but it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Security forces, government, air travel authorities and airport management, airlines, and indeed travellers all have a part to play in delivering a solution”.