After posting Concerts vs. Airports: The Role and Effectiveness of Security Screening in Public Places I realized it was a tad long and I might bore some of you, so here’s the crib notes:

For about ten years I worked, and eventually directed, security for large events like concerts and football games. There are some lessons we can apply to airline screening since both involve securing public spaces and large crowds:

  1. Screening is just one layer of security, but in airports it’s treated as practically the only layer.
  2. In concerts we relied more heavily on inside security to fill the gaps of screening.
  3. In concerts we used more behavioral profiling, earlier in the system.
  4. We never stopped profiling and watching once someone was inside.
  5. Technology is only good at catching certain things, and can’t catch everything.
  6. Increasing screening, but not the rest of security, will only piss people off and won’t significantly improve security.
  7. 80% or more of airport security seems to start and stop with screening. This might look good, but isn’t really secure.
  8. Computers suck at profiling and and are much more likely to catch a good guy than a bad guy.

No security is perfect, and a determined and intelligent attacker could probably defeat most security where we allow public access, but by adding additional non-intrusive security controls we can rely less on screening and increase security while improving the flight experience. We need to build more layers into air transport security, not try and build a single really big wall. We have defense in depth at concerts and football games, why not airports?

There’s more in the main post, but you get the idea.