Aviation Security: It Takes a Network
Since its creation after 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has evolved to stay one-step ahead of threats to aviation security.
As TSA’s priorities change, it realizes the vital role that airlines, airports, pilots, flight crew members, and the traveling public can play in securing our aviation network. TSA’s recent focus on outreach to these stakeholders is helping design better programs to improve security and make traveling easier.
TSA’s strategy involves 20 layers of security to improve the safety of the traveling public. Some of the layers include Secure Flight, canine screening, the Federal Flight Deck Officers program, and passenger awareness. It depends on the active participation of stakeholders, a network of people and organizations across every layer of security.
The evolution of Secure Flight is a good example of how stakeholder contributions enhance security. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office reported that this program needed more focus on privacy and program integrity. During the initial planning of the program, it did not adequately consider stakeholder concerns about privacy, the value of the watch list data, and the cost to the airline industry. TSA took this feedback seriously and rebuilt the program from the ground up. Today, the program actively involves stakeholders and once deployed, will have a positive impact on the aviation system.
To “win back the customer,” TSA is taking steps to involve the passenger more actively. In January 2008, TSA launched an Internet forum called “Evolution of Security” to help share information and seek feedback from the traveling public. Passengers identified a new trend where specific checkpoints required that passengers remove electronic devices (phones, blackberries, etc.) from their bags before screening. By the end of the next day, TSA investigated the issue and put a stop to this practice that was part of a local TSA office.
TSA is taking the concept of stakeholder collaboration beyond just aviation security. They are “creating a seamless connection between all those who have a stake in transportation security; among [TSA] and other government players, international allies, and industry partners.” The agency has reorganized to align with all critical transportation sectors across the air, land, and sea domains.
Close cooperation between the TSA and stakeholders provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to have a positive impact on security – and to help make our lives easier as we travel every day.