Last September's UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2309 sent a strong message to the world. Declaring the global aviation system as being of vital importance to economic development and prosperity, the resolution urged Member States to “strengthen security screening procedures and maximize the promotion, utilization and sharing of new technologies and innovative techniques that maximize the capability to detect explosives and other threats.”
A great statement of purpose – but what comes next? How do the nations of the world come together and collaborate to enhance aviation security at all levels? What is the first step?
A global challenge requires a global response, starting with the development of a common risk framework for investments in new technologies and individual country support. Identifying true vulnerabilities, threats, and projected growth to develop a plan that both supports the infrastructure and training needs of airports in emerging markets and creates a mechanism to accelerate the development of new technologies for the early-adopter community. Simply supplying equipment and training isn’t enough to sustain long-term success. To truly enhance global aviation security for the long haul, a structure must be developed that fosters the technology innovation needed to counter a highly innovative adversary. The current model of R&D being tied directly to government regulations has made air travel more secure – but doesn’t provide a sufficient test bed for industry to constantly develop and trial new technologies and processes with end-users. This can delay the introduction of next-generation, and potentially more efficient, screening approaches that could disrupt the market.
Under the auspices of ICAO, bringing together all stakeholders including government regulators, airports, and airlines to develop a detailed common risk framework is already a significant step towards achieving the goals laid out in UN Resolution 2309. But clearly more needs to be done. It will be interesting to see at the upcoming Passenger Terminal Expo conference in Amsterdam if any of the speakers put forth new ideas on what can be done to drive real change.
The good news today is that world leaders are recognizing the impact aviation has on the global economy and are calling for action. By working as a global aviation security community, and breaking down bureaucratic procurement practices and a singular design-to-the-threat approach, we can accelerate the development of next-generation solutions that hit squarely on security effectiveness, operational efficiency, and passenger experience, which might just help us out-innovate the adversary and avoid the next incident.
Now that is the business we should all be in.