Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Risk-based passenger screening could make air travel safer

01.02.2012
Anyone who has flown on a commercial airline since 2001 is well aware of increasingly strict measures at airport security checkpoints.

A study by Illinois researchers demonstrates that intensive screening of all passengers actually makes the system less secure by overtaxing security resources.

University of Illinois computer science and mathematics professor Sheldon H. Jacobson, in collaboration with Adrian J. Lee at the Central Illinois Technology and Education Research Institute, explored the benefit of matching passenger risk with security assets. The pair detailed their work in the journal Transportation Science.

“A natural tendency, when limited information is available about from where the next threat will come, is to overestimate the overall risk in the system,” Jacobson said. “This actually makes the system less secure by over-allocating security resources to those in the system that are low on the risk scale relative to others in the system.”

When overestimating the population risk, a larger proportion of high-risk passengers are designated for too little screening while a larger proportion of low-risk passengers are subjected to too much screening. With security resources devoted to the many low-risk passengers, those resources are less able to identify or address high-risk passengers. Nevertheless, current policies favor broad screening.

“One hundred percent checked baggage screening and full-body scanning of all passengers is the antithesis of a risk-based system,” Jacobson said. “It treats all passengers and their baggage as high-risk threats. The cost of such a system is prohibitive, and it makes the air system more vulnerable to successful attacks by sub-optimally allocating security assets.”

In an effort to address this problem, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) introduced a pre-screening program in 2011, available to select passengers on a trial basis. Jacobson’s previous work has indicated that resources could be more effectively invested if the lowest-risk segments of the population – frequent travelers, for instance – could pass through security with less scrutiny since they are “known” to the system.

A challenge with implementing such a system is accurately assessing the risk of each passenger and using such information appropriately. In the new study, Jacobson and Lee developed three algorithms dealing with risk uncertainty in the passenger population. Then, they ran simulations to demonstrate how their algorithms, applied to a risk-based screening method, could estimate risk in the overall passenger population – instead of focusing on each individual passenger – and how errors in this estimation procedure can be mitigated to reduce the risk to the overall system.

They found that risk-based screening, such as the TSA’s new Pre-Check program, increases the overall expected security. Rating a passenger’s risk relative to the entire flying population allows more resources to be devoted to passengers with a high risk relative to the passenger population.

The paper also discusses scenarios of how terrorists may attempt to thwart the security system – for example, blending in with a high-risk crowd so as not to stand out – and provides insights into how risk-based systems can be designed to mitigate the impact of such activities.

“The TSA’s move toward a risk-based system is designed to more accurately match security assets with threats to the air system,” Jacobson said. “The ideal situation is to create a system that screens passengers commensurate with their risk. Since we know that very few people are a threat to the system, relative risk rather than absolute risk provides valuable information.”

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported this work.
Editor’s notes: To contact Sheldon Jacobson,
call 217-244-7275; email shj@illinois.edu.
The paper, “Addressing Passenger Risk Uncertainty,” is available online
http://transci.journal.informs.org/content/early/2011/12/21/trsc.1110.0384.
full.pdf+html

Liz Ahlberg | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>