airports_and_train_stations

Airports, Train Stations, Bus Stations and Public Ports

(Topics: Administration & Security | Back to Home)

The security expert Bruce Schneier coined the term “security theater” to describe countermeasures designed to provide the feeling of improved safety while doing little or nothing that actually helps. His classic example is the airport. Airline passengers are now protected from people with bombs and weapons because they all have to go through a security screening. And at first glance, this makes sense. A criminal can do lot of damage in the small space of an airplane.

But now, we are waiting in lines to take off our shoes and go through metal detectors. Which means hundreds of people are all in a crowded area—a juicy target for an attacker. We've not made airline travel any safer; we've moved the place of greatest risk from the jet to the terminal.

Crowds are Unsafe

People are certainly wonderful, but the more people that are crammed into a small space, the greater danger there is. This is how diseases are spread, how riots start, and where terrorists go to cause the most trouble. Crowded places—like nightclubs, conferences, and classrooms—are targeted by mass shooters. This is the part of the price we pay for living in a free society. Get a lot of people together, and there is more risk.

You can't make a crowd less safe, but you can do more to help ensure that people in the crowd are less likely to create a problem. Encouraging public health, promoting positive and civil discourse, and tracking criminal activity—-these actions make crowds safer.

Not perfect, but better. And improvement is essential to security

The Future of Travel

It's hard to imagine a world that doesn't have mass transit. We're going to continue to go to dense urban areas, climb into small vehicles, and then be transported to somewhere else. But we don't have to worry about the risks of doing so if our emphasis is on genuine security instead of security theater. That means looking at the real dangers and working to reduce them.

We all have places to go. Being delayed in getting there doesn't make us safer.


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