A Practical Approach to Airport Security

With the recent “Underweargate” experience (i.e., the Moslem hiding explosives in his underwear during a flight to Detroit), people are losing any sense of respect for the TSA screening process.  Naturally, I’ve had many people ask me: “DZ, how do the Israelis handle airport security?”   I typically reply “Think Stereotypically, Act Individually” and then explain that engineers recognize that you have to stratify selection based on pertinent attributes.  This is how all systems are optimized.

I located a very good article that describes the key elements of the process used for El Al and airlines that fly to Israel.  A few extracts:

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002…

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?…

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory. “The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

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