Having culled through dozens of articles and publications over the last month, as well as having participated in many webinars, we’ve crystalized the takeaways related to aviation security during the age of Covid into the five key points below. Clearly, they could evolve over the coming months, but this is what we’re hearing from all corners of the sector.
• Balance. Balance. Balance. The aviation sector needs to find and develop a balance between health and security as passenger levels begin a return to pre-pandemic levels. We are experienced in using risk-based approaches in the security domain, and we should also put them into practice here. From our perch, if everyone has agreed to consume some security risk to help the market recover, let’s put all options on the table and make sure we’re picking the right ones. We might dare say that an obligation for passengers to wear masks through the checkpoint could be a good initial step (and maybe more newsworthy than additional plexiglass deployments).
• A Layered Approach Makes Sense Here Too! In the early days of the pandemic, people jumped immediately to social distancing as a silver bullet. However, simulations have demonstrated that social distancing at security checkpoints will inevitably result in queue overflow into other areas of the airport. This has led operators to consider a mix of tools and approaches to meeting health and security risk-mitigation objectives simultaneously. As an example, masks, tray disinfection, appropriate plexiglass barriers, and social distancing in certain closed-quarter environments could prove a good mix. Or, testing will take off (fingers crossed) and the equation could shift further. Regardless, operators will need good data throughout to know what’s working and how they can continuously improve (our plug for pax flow data collection tech).
• Play the Long Game. Airports are working with limited resources, but need to invest in effective, long-term solutions to mitigate the possibility of Covid-19 transmission, increase consumer confidence, AND (ding, ding, ding!) lay the foundation for security approaches and systems that will support growth beyond the New Normal. Those large airports using this as an opportunity to make much-needed upgrades/investments (think hold baggage equipment roll-outs) will come out stronger. It’s up to the regulators to yield the carrots and sticks appropriately.
• #Recoveryinnovation Matters. Investment in emerging technologies (tray cleaning, crowd monitoring, remote image progressing, etc.) and “out-of-the-box” ideas will be key if airports wish to operate efficiently. Let’s use this as a blank sheet opportunity (#automateddetection).
• Community Love. During this time of uncertainty, cooperation and collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential. We “heart” this grey space between the two circles and are committed to pushing stakeholders in both spheres to do better, and keep each other honest. #nofear