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Monday, October 29, 2018

Airport Security and other

Airport Security
An airport is a plac
e that involves an aspect of transportation. People travel either by road, sea or rail or air. All these means of transportation deserve to be provided with sufficient security. It is no exaggeration that the airport has continued to receive greater attention due to very strategic reasons. One of the reasons is that apart from being the most popular means of transportation, it is the fastest. It is a means of moving people from one destination to another, as well as for transporting goods. The journey that may take a ship three weeks or more can be covered by a plane in hours. Airport accommodates a large number of people including the travellers, the crew and management of various airliners present at the airport(s) as well those who escort travellers to departure and those waiting to receive travellers on arrival. It is a network of people having different motives and it is important to put in place adequate security to protect lives and property at the airport. The airport is also sensitive that it has become one of the veritable avenues being exploited by terrorists to carry out their attacks. The ugly incidents of terrorist attacks in many airports have necessitated the need by various countries to fortify security in their airports with the aim of making their airports less vulnerable to enemy's attack. Previously, less attention was paid to screening passengers for possession of arms and weapons which were usually hidden in their hand bags Some of the incidents may include arbitrary killing of innocent civilians by terrorists and disgruntled elements. A good example of terrorist attacks is that of a Cubana Flight 455 from Barbados to Jamaica hijacked by terrorists on October 6, 1976 in which seventy-three people were murdered. On 30th May, 1972, a gang of three terrorists who were linked to the Japanese Red Army, shot and sporadically threw grenades at people at Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) in Tel Aviv, Israel. Before they were overpowered, they had already killed twenty-four people and no less than seventy-eight people sustained various degrees of injury. Also, in December 1985, the Rome and Vienna airports became targets of terrorist attacks. The terrorists took advantage of security lapses in these airports to carry out their nefarious acts. They shot and threw grenades at people and this led to the killing of no less than 20 people. The worst of all was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack where some commercial planes were hijacked by terrorists linked to the Al-Qaeda network and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon while one meant to be crashed on the White House but was forced down by the passengers on board, missing the target.
3.31 Elements of Airport Security Due to the large number of people being accommodated on a daily basis at the airports worldwide, various governments have begun to install different security systems. The infrastructure in most airports, especially in the US and UK since the 9/11 incident are being fortified with all sorts of security gadgets and procedures, as dictated by kinds of security challenges being experienced in various airports. For example, before now, the presence of touts and area boys was very evident in major airports in Nigeria. During that time, stealing of travellers' belongings and baggage was very rampant. The new security measures put in place since the civilian administration of Obasanjo (1999-2007) has drastically reduced the presence of touts in our airports. The incidence of missing baggage is reducing fast by the day. Let us quickly discuss some of the elements of effective airport security.
(a) Airport security personnel
Apart from the class of airports, the amount of security threats being experienced by an airport also determines the level of security to be provided in the place. By and large, most incidents of terrorist attack are usually effected through international airports, and this makes it pertinent to assign adequate security personnel there. Unlike countries like the United States where state and local governments have the highest control in the provision of security personnel to the airports, in Nigeria, airport law enforcement whether in local or international airports is largely controlled by Federal law enforcement agencies. The type of security personnel arrangement, you are likely to find at any international airport depends largely on the security policy of that country. For instance in Nigeria, there is absence of state police and no state government can provide security for any local airport without seeking assistance from the Federal government. Generally, the security agencies that can be found in airports may include: : The enforcement authority in the airports very according to the class of each airport. There are first class airports that can serve as international airport to be used as entry and exit point for travellers coming into or leaving the country. Conventionally, an international airport must definitely fulfil international aviation safety standards and should be equipped with facilities that can accommodate big aircrafts. The reason is that not all aircrafts can be accommodated by every airport. That is why some airports are used for local travels, many of which can only accommodate relatively small aircrafts.
Policemen and officers specially attached to the airports;
A permanent police station equipped with adequate equipment and competent personnel;
Members of the Public Intelligence Community like State Security Service (as in Nigeria) who will be stationed at strategic locations
within and outside the airports to gather security-related information that can be used to prevent or reduce crime or terrorist threat at the airports;
Some members of (other) paramilitary agencies like Immigration Service and Customs Service to identify illegal immigrants, importers/exporters of harmful and banned products, and other culprits which should be arrested, investigated and if found wanting, they should be subjected to immediate prosecution;
Emergency team that can respond timely and effectively to events of disaster like plane crash or fire outbreak at the airports;
Anti-bomb experts to detect concealed bomb items or detonate any explosive found at or around the airports;
Trained police dogs should also be used for the detection of explosives, hard-drugs and dangerous objects;
Location of military barracks or situating a unit consisting of the military forces within the airports to provide complementary security services at the airports in protecting the nation’s airports against any internal or external aggression;
The use of Private Guards: Private security personnel can play complementary roles in providing security to the airport(s). For instance in Spain, private security officials are allowed by the government to provide security services at the airport. The airliners can also be encouraged to contract private security guards, the practice which exists in some countries. Some of these guards if not able to conduct the main screening at the screening points, can still use the method of “screening the passengers by observation techniques” (SPOT) that is already being used in several airports in the United States (://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airport_security); and
(b) Installation of security equipment: In recent times especially resulting from the experience of the September 11 terrorist attack in the US, most countries have fortified their airports with sophisticated security equipment. With metal detector, security officials can easily identify someone with arms or weapons like knives and other sharp objects that can be used to harm passengers and crew on any aircraft. In most international airport, it is illegal for restaurant operators within specific locations in the airports to use plates that may be converted into weapons by terrorists. In those restaurants, the operator use plastic to serve their customers. Technological advancement has brought about invention of very effective explosive machines or gadgets like X-ray machines, explosive trace detection (ETD), and puffer machines.
These machines are used to conduct screening for baggage and other travelling loads with the aim of detecting if there are explosive substances particularly volatile compounds that can make explosives using gas chromatography. According to Edward J. Staples (Ultrahigh-speed) gas chromatography (GC) can be described as:
....a powerful method for analyzing odours, fragrances, and chemical vapours produced by explosives, chemical and biological weapons, contraband, and hazardous industrial materials. A new chemical-profiling system directly measures odour concentration and intensity with an integrated GC sensor. Using a solid-state surface- acoustic-wave (SAW) sensor with electronically variable sensitivity, it identifies the chemical species in the vapours inside cargo containers and determines their concentrations in 10 s with picogram sensitivity (://www.aip.org/tip /INPHFA/vol-10/iss-3/p22.html). The invention of backscatter X-ray scanners makes it possible to detect any hidden weapons on a any passenger. Here, passengers are asked to move close to a flat panel and in the process a high resolution image is produced through which someone with weapon(s) can be identified and arrested immediately for further interrogation.

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