As the administration thinks about infrastructure, an upgrade to TSA systems could be in the mix.
Ever since Donald Trump’s election to be the 45th President of the United States, we have seen an aggressive push to craft an infrastructure bill. Both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to address our infrastructure needs. When politicians discuss infrastructure bills, we often hear about ailing roads and bridges, bringing broadband to rural America, and bolstering veterans hospitals. These are all important to the well-being of the country, but we cannot overlook a critical aspect of infrastructure that must be refreshed: a critical facet of infrastructure that is fiscally responsible, increases safety and efficiency, and, most importantly, heightens our nation’s security. We are in grave need of an aviation security technology overhaul.
Following 9/11, aviation security became a top priority. Lawmakers sat and crafted legislation for over 3 months, created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and then the TSA installed security equipment throughout our nation. Over time, we have added to that initial surge with tools that help us analyze where problems exist in the system. Too often TSA is understaffed and criticized for shortcomings, many of which are not their own making. This past summer, concerns over long lines and missed flights caused TSA to spend more on overtime to meet the surge. However, with new technologies, we can move people more efficiently and effectively.
These new systems are quicker and require less manpower at checkpoints to operate. Engineers have figured out how to move us better so that if one person has metal in his boot or something in his bag, we all don’t have to wait until he is cleared. Continuous movement, continuous evolution. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was the first to utilize one of the new scanners that doubles the number of bags scanned and cuts wait times in half. The problem is no one wants to pay for them. The bottom line is most of the systems TSA is using need to be refreshed.
Not only do security lines at airports slow people down and cause them to miss their flights, the congestion of people becomes extremely dangerous when thinking about a potential terrorist attack. Check-in areas tend to be in vast open spaces. After the bombing in the Brussels airport check-in area, it became clear that we need to hyper-focus on areas of our airports that serve as queues. These wide-open spaces are prime target areas and they need to be moved now. That, with the addition of new scanners, could completely revolutionize the way we look at TSA and our visits to the airport.
Will Congress take up the mantle and include aviation security funding in the infrastructure package? Congress must act if we plan to meet future demands and to keep promises made by our elected lawmakers to increase efficiency and make our airports and borders more secure.