Airport security has a lot to live up to. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an average of eight million people flew every day in 2013, with the cast majority traveling through main airports.
Airport security has a lot to live up to. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an average of eight million people flew every day in 2013, with the cast majority traveling through main airports. Airport staffing is also on the rise, as more restaurants, shops and other services arrive next to the runways.
With this growing footfall to account for, airports are understandably under considerable pressure to maintain a round-the-clock, first-class security system. Although airport security is one of the most heavily scrutinized in the world, other transport networks could still benefit from adopting the systems, processes and approaches that are best practice in the aviation industry.
One transport network that should draw inspiration from airports is railway. Railway stations remain a top target for thieves in many countries — in the U.K., for example, four of the country’s top crime hot spots were major railway stations, based on figures released by the local police in 2013. The ever-present threat of crime means security managers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to keep passengers, staff and assets safe.
Airports are well placed to provide inspiration. International airports have invested heavily in solutions and strategies that are specifically designed to better protect passengers and cargo, which is an excellent starting point for railways looking to improve their security. This article will explore the parallels between airport and railway security and examine the best solutions that railways should be looking to adopt from airports.
Both airports and railway stations are some of the world’s busiest and most congested spaces. Picture the departure lounge at international airports during the summer holiday season or a major railway station during Friday rush hour. In both scenarios, the sheer number of people can be overwhelming.
Airports approach this in an innovative way — by adopting a strategy that enables security managers to prevent scenarios from turning into incidents, rather than just reacting to events after they occur. If a passenger leaves his bag in one of the terminals and walks off, technologies such as video analytics can help the security staff to spot the suspicious behavior in a busy crowd as it happens and pre-empt a potential problem.
In addition, using a video management system to integrate several video feeds together into one single unified view makes it much easier to spot a person behaving in an unusual way and can quickly guide the security personnel to the source of concern. For larger railway stations in particular, this proactive approach to managing situations should serve as an inspiration.
Always on 24/7/365
Both airport and railway transport networks never stop their operations, so their security systems must perform to the highest standards both day and night. Continuing to operate without interruption, no matter what the circumstances, is essential to securing both environments.
Take, for example, an incident when an airport suffers a power outage that affects the operational systems at the terminal. This failure can cause major flight delays and chaos, with big crowds moving around the building and demanding information about their flights.
In this type of scenario, where staff attention is stretched to its limit, security is more important than ever. So how do airports ensure that they can deliver a 24/7/365 security solution that runs smoothly even in extreme circumstances like these? The answer lies in integrated security systems that are designed with automatic fail-over to back up systems. In the event of a power failure or a security risk, site security is immediately picked up and controlled by a secondary security site.
Like how airports andrailway stations can be affected by adverse conditions outside of their control. Severe weather, flooding or fire can disrupt critical operational systems and put thousands of passengers at risk. Investing in back-up security solutions – like those used in the airport sector – can provide railway security managers with peace of mind, assured that their systems can stand up to the toughest conditions and security is always maintained.
Airports and railway stations both employ a number of independent contractors, from cleaners to maintenance workers, shop staff, engineers and train operators, all with access to sensitive areas of their facilities. Airports typically manage their staff through stateof- the-art access control functionality and integration with HR and building management systems, which ensures that unauthorized personnel cannot access restricted areas. These systems are linked to payroll, so as soon as a member of the staff leaves or a contractor stops working for the organization, their physical access credentials are immediately updated. This ensures that access rights are accurate at all times.
Full integration between the HR and security departments also makes staff registration seamless, saving time for security operators and HR staff while also eliminating administrative errors. Railway networks usually have smaller budgets compared to airports, and this ability to integrate both systems will help railway security managers manage their budget more effectively by spreading security more widely and wisely across their estate.
Solving the retail conundrum
Airports are becoming highly sophisticated shopping destinations, with many high-end retailers boasting a presence in major airport terminals. For retail security managers, investing in new technologies such as video analytics, point-of-sale alerts and other integrated security solutions is essential for reducing theft and shrinkage.
In the last decade, large railway stations have also started to grow as commercial centers. Although the profile of the retailers may be slightly different, with railways focusing more on chain shops and restaurants, the same challenges in securing these sites exist. How can the railway security staff protect against theft in order to attract more retail partners and boost investment? Again, borrowing strategies from airports will help here too, by specifically investing in video and access solutions optimized for retail customers.
An effective transport security system needs to be flexible as well as embrace risk management and pre-emptive deterrence. It’s true that some sophisticated systems can be perceived as premium technology and security managers in other transport sectors may face challenges in justifying an airport-standard level of investment. But prevention is almost always cheaper than the cure. If railway security managers are willing to invest in avoiding losses and damages further down the line, airports are an excellent model to follow.