DUBAI: UK encourages holistic approach to airport security

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UK advisors have detailed a new multi-faceted airport security philosophy, combining technology, behavioural analysis and information, aimed at reducing dependence on traditional methods and improving passenger flow.

It has emerged from an initiative by the UK's Office for security and counter-terrorism to explore possible fresh approaches to aviation security.

The new philosophy, dubbed FASITE, centres on three domains - detection, behaviour and information - and, crucially, interconnections between them.

Speaking at the Dubai air show, Adam Ogilvie-Smith, a security adviser to the UK's Defence and Security Organisation, said the typical "security comb" at airports was an inefficient process.

It involved predictable, one-time checks which treated all passengers the same, and as individuals rather than a group.

Ogilvie-Smith said that an "outcome-focused, risk-based" approach would instead extend the security coverage area. It would also aim to introduce a degree of unpredictability which - aside from acting as a deterrent - could prompt changes in behaviour patterns valuable to detecting a threat.

Simple examples include random security lane assignment, which could have the side benefit of smoothing passenger flow, the use of one-way glass, or unorthodox stationing of personnel.

Careful use of information would help assess the risk which a passenger posed, while a potential threat could be identified or declared false using advanced technology - such as covert trace detection - which does not have to be located in the normal security zone.

"Lots of aviation security is a reaction to previous sets of attacks," said Ogilvie-Smith. "This is a way of trying to go one step ahead."

Privacy has become a particular concern as airlines have demanded more information and security screening has become more intrusive.

While acknowledging that such capabilities could take airport security checks beyond the immediate remit of flight protection, or trafficking prevention, Ogilvie-Smith said the aim was not to adopt a "Big Brother" stance towards airport passengers but rather the "opposite" - to make aviation security more effective, shortening queues and improving passenger experience.