David J. Danto
thoughts in my own, personal opinion
ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Video &
Technology Industry News: @NJDavidD
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Is Bright, Ice Is Cold, & The TSA Is Useless
report came out this morning detailing that the TSA missed test weapons and
explosives at airport checkpoints about 80% of the time. This is – if you recall – two years
after a similar undercover study showed that they failed to catch the test
items 95% of the time. Two years later – and after significant
promises to fix the problems—it’s only 15% better. What we need here is an intervention from Captain
Obvious – this process isn’t working.
the last report came out I (and others) wrote about what we
saw every day while traveling. The
TSA is a disorganized group of individuals that don’t seem to follow any set of
rules. Day to day, location to location,
they seem to do whatever they feel like, making up and/or ignoring rules and
procedures as they go, and obviously representing a huge risk to the traveling
public’s security. The hope of those in
charge seems to be that if they hassle people enough it will create the
illusion of security. It doesn’t. We all know the truth now. After two years to get their act together,
this team, process and system is not significantly different from when it was
tested two years ago. It’s irreparably broken.
needs to be admitted now is that sometimes organizations just can’t be fixed –
they need to be replaced. No amount of Band-Aids,
new supervision or additional training will do a thing for a system that is this
fundamentally flawed. It’s time to – if you
can forgive the bad pun – drop a bomb on it and start all over.
a new airport screening process and organization look like?
would identify a class of traveler that is a non-terrorist, non-threat. This would be achieved via a voluntary,
thorough background check (resembling Global Entry more than it does the
would have a standard, expedited procedure for screening these individuals at
every airport, at every entrance, at all times the airport is open. This reliable, accessible everywhere and all the time service would garner enough
interest and enough paid subscriptions to generate a significant amount of
revenue - enough to offset any costs.
organization would trash the existing, primarily useless scanning equipment
purchased under questionable contracts and implement scanning stations that
actually work. AI and automatic chemical
“sniffing” would be used for the first level of carry-on screening, speeding
the process up and making it more reliable (than a display being stared-at by
an exhausted and/or bored individual.) Agents
would be used for any secondary screening flagged by the AI system. Again, this only works if the background
checked traveler never has to wait in the same line as those who haven’t been
pre-cleared. This keeps waits lower for
many, incentivizes travelers to get their backgrounds checked, and minimizes
the workload for screeners that need to perform the extra vetting.
organization would have a central management structure that ensures all
procedures are universally applied. It’s
perfectly OK for a process to be changed due to an emerging threat, but then
that process must be universally applied at all locations simultaneously, not
at the whim or staffing of the local team.
organization would require screeners to pass a rigorous test themselves. They would need to be more intelligent and
poised than your average fast-food clerk, and they should then be compensated
far-better than your average fast-food clerk.
As we frequent travelers have learned over and over again, an
organization is only as good as the quality of its front line, customer facing
people. This new organization must fundamentally
acknowledge that the traveling public are its customers, not evil sheep to be herded
through gates, insulted and hassled.
any of this happen? In today’s world –
where we’re all thankful a moron hasn’t started a nuclear war every day –
probably not. But eventually, we will
have to acknowledge the TSA is just a joke and do something about it. I just pray it won’t take another disaster in
air-travel to prove the point.
This article was written by David Danto and
contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under
prevailing fair use statutes.