x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Expert says more hi-tech security at airports could mean fewer hassles

Improved security at airports will help reduce waiting times and the length of queues, according to a senior security official for Dubai Airports.

DUBAI // Improved security at airports will help reduce waiting times and the length of queues, according to a senior security official for Dubai Airports. Speaking at the Future Airports conference here last week, Chris Garton, the company's senior vice president of solutions, said modernising security operations would lead to streamlined service, even with additional layers of scrutiny.

Eventually, he added, customers might even be able to pass through the airport without any documentation at all. "The objective is to reduce process steps at airports so that people do not have to keep on queuing at different check points on arrival at the airport," Mr Garton said. "Use of biometrics to verify identity is the future. People have to be removed from the equation, as they are naturally fallible, and increasingly staff will become supervisors rather than operators. The focus is on developing and implementing non-contact technologies as these are less intrusive and [less] time consuming."

The UAE has been a pioneer in the introduction of identity checks using biological traits like fingerprints or iris scans, automated check-ins and e-gates. Advances in mobile phone technology will enable an encrypted bar code incorporating flight details and identity data to be read while passengers pass through the airport, Mr Garton said. As a result, passengers will spend less time in queues. However, Mr Garton, who was responsible for implementing new security procedures in London airports after the liquid explosives threat in 2006, said terrorist dangers would continue to evolve.

"New forms of terrorism are a constant threat facing the industry, and it is critical that as many agencies as possible are working together to protect against them," he said. "Intelligence is continually being gathered on potential threats, and their likelihood and consequence are evaluated and acted upon in a risk-based approach. A challenge for the future is finding the one terrorist in 100 million travellers without every passenger going through comprehensive checks."

Mr Garton was responsible for the development of the security process at Dubai International Airport's new Terminal Three. He declined to comment on any specific threats facing the airport, but said health and environmental threats were a part of a broad assessment of risks. tbrooks@thenational.ae