Performance and control problems in Airport safety and security

Safety and security refers to ensuring protection for passengers and their baggage from various threats, which may be human generated, such as the terrorist attacks or mechanical failure in any of the equipments that aids in flying or may even stem from natural causes, such as unfavorable weather.

The responsibility of the management at airport increases manifold in such conditions, as they are required to confront both the classes of problems and account for the safe translocation of passengers as well as the baggage they carry with themselves. The manual security checks have been supplemented with a large no. of technology driven devices designed for detecting harmful and dangerous materials. The issue of security and safety has been moving upwards on the priority list of the management with each passing day as both the traffic of passengers and threats have been increasing. The huge amount of cost incurred on the machines calls for optimum utilization of the financial resources, efforts and time. KPIs are crafted to take care of such areas.

The KPIs that may be formulated can be along any of the four dimensions, Financial Perspective, Customer Perspective, Security Measures and Efficiency Perspective. Financial evaluation is possible via parameters like equipment cost and percentage of funds used for security purpose. Customer Perspective can be taken care of through carry-on baggage limits, Pre arrival check-in time and number of baggage losses. Security measures can be judged from no. of security checks a person has to go through and the no. of technical support teams. Efficiency can be had from time taken for security checks, no. of accidents and the like.

Most of the challenges are concerned with identifying the devices of potential threats at

the right time to avoid the harm that could have occurred had they escaped the notice. The "Contract Security Guards" who are employed by the airport authority or the airlines

to operate the Baggage screening systems at the airport terminals often have not received

adequate training and they are superior to the trainees only in the sense that they have been employed for a longer period of time. In addition to this, they are not given any powers of arrest and are almost always unarmed. The woes of getting low compensation, mounting expectations and "rotten working hours" accumulate to cause significant decrease in the efficiency thereby elevating the instances of failures. Moreover, the X-ray equipment in use may be old enough to permit the anti-social elements make use of the loopholes in the system and attain their purposes. The level of sensitivity of "Metal Detectors" or "Magnometers" can be adjusted to considerably low (to avoid searching passengers) or high (in case of high alert situations, which starts detecting even small metal coins) level to cause unwanted disturbances and defeats the purpose. Even the fence of barbed wire at the airports is not something that can deter the intruders completely, making the airports "Soft Targets" for such people. One c an comba

t such risky situations only if suitable strategies are placed and worked upon.

KPIs help in quantifying the measures, which can then be used for knowing the performance in a particular direction or area. The deviations can be investigated into and ways out may be devised. This enables one to eliminate the use of "Hit and Trial" method and dig out the problem areas to be worked on. The four dimensional view gained along the four directions can be combined to structure the plans and strategies for overcoming the difficulties encountered.

In a nutshell, KPIs help in assigning magnitudes to parameters which are framed to assess the otherwise qualitative measures. This contributes to the task of making the safety procedures a flawless act by the concerned management.