Embracing new technologies and enhancing security procedures

Posted: 27 November 2015 | | No comments yet

With many airports around the world planning to invest in IT-related projects to enhance traveller experience, plus airport security procedures and processes under constant review with heightened security checks across the globe of late, International Airport Review’s recently co-located Airport IT 2015 and Airport Security 2015 event was a great opportunity for top-level heads of security and IT professionals from airports and airlines, plus industry decision-makers, to come together and share, discuss, and learn from each other’s experiences.

Airport IT 2015 and Airport Security 2015

Held in Barcelona on 16-17 November 2015, the conference and exhibition attracted 250 delegates and was described as International Airport Review’s best event yet, raising topics and discussions around the matters of how to improve technology and services to make our airports safer whilst optimising information technology to enhance overall airport operations.

Airport Security

Chairman Chris Woodroofe (Head of Security & Business Continuity at Gatwick Airport) welcomed delegates to the event and explained that as threats to transportation have increased, airports are forced to also increase their security measures and so Airport Security 2015 was a timely and pertinent event to share and learn experiences.

“My first attendance at a security conference and overall a very good experience – I will attend again”

The morning’s Panel Discussion (moderated by David Bassett, US Dept. of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration) centred around how airport security can become one with security overall. During the session, a number of elements were discussed including how best to educate the public about safety and security via social media and the traditional media, and how passengers/travellers can become ‘allies’ and even help airport staff identify security threats. The importance of screening technology and the methods of training staff who operate them was also examined, plus the growing concerns over insider threats and how best to educate airport staff in this area.

“Excellent conference”

Addressing different approaches and innovations in security management, plus highlighting how airports can increase the efficiency of passenger screening with new and enhanced technology were the focus of other presentations, plus Peter Gheysels (Security Manager Operations at Brussels Airport) gave an overview of remote screening at the Belgian airport and how successful its introduction has been.

Airport IT 2015 and Airport Security 2015

Two breakout sessions also took place – one on how Miami International Airport proactively scans crowds to identify anomalies in human behaviour, and the other on how to tighten document inspection at security control points. In the Miami International Airport session, Lauren Stover (Assistant Aviation Director at MIA) emphasised that, due to experience, a calculated combination of advanced technology and the human eye will offer a better security platform.

“This has been an eye-opener; as a newcomer this conference has been an excellent opportunity to meet experienced colleagues and it has been a great learning experience”

Biometric technology was under the spotlight in the afternoon and presentations centred on utilising the technology to facilitate security, assessing just how effective systems are at border controls, and identifying which technology should be considered for optimum security for different environments.

The topic then changed when Alan Black (VP Director of Public Safety at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport) took the stage to discuss the assessment of insider threats and evaluating the motives of those who commit fraud and theft, those who disclose confidential information or those who commit sabotage.

Other areas focused on during the afternoon included assessing system level approaches for checkpoints and how to work towards a form of regulation for quality assurance tackled by security management systems.

“Simply outstanding, thank you”

Opening Day Two of Airport Security was Chairman Marc Pearl (President and CEO of the Homeland Security and Defense Business Council) who urged delegates to really think about what they can take from the second day of the event and how they can apply their learning to their everyday work – whether as a vendor or an airport.

Addressing terrorism through technology at airports was the topic of Detective Sergeant Neville Hay’s presentation (Sussex Police Special Branch, Gatwick Airport), highlighting preparation and planning is key with strategy centring on the four P’s: Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Prepare.

“Professional and informing”

Other topics given focus during the morning were enhancing security systems by using human factor, effective screening measures, establishing airport perimeter security systems and how Dutch airline KLM focuses on illegal immigration and drug traffickers.

In a panel discussion billed as ‘The Incident Series’ and moderated by Marc Pearl, experts took the stage to focus on real airport security incidents that have occurred and the lessons that can be learned. Delegates heard about incidents at Narita International Airport during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, how LAX deals with planned and unplanned events including dealing with crowds and managing chaos, plus how Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport conducts perimeter security.

In another round of breakout sessions, evaluating the threat of drones to airspace was given the spotlight, plus a detailed look into a risk-based approach to airport security.

“Overall very good – will definitely advise for 2016”

In the afternoon Panel Discussion, moderated by Johnnie Müller (Security Director, Copenhagen Airports), topics turned to the future and about what airport security officials can expect from the different types of incidents and disruptions that could occur. The session highlighted that airports have been under strict security measures for many years which have forced them into purchasing a range of more advanced technology. Discussions looked at how airports have coped with the changes needed plus tackled questions around evaluating if it has been the right approach, with further examinations highlighting if the technology actually meets the threats that can occur tomorrow.

Airport IT

Chaired by Shane Zbrodoff (Director Projects at Calgary International Airport) on Day One, topics surrounding legislation and regulation affecting air safety and air traffic control opened the conference which examined advances in airport and air safety technologies, plus laws and regulations affecting areas such as navigation, safety and the effect on IT systems.

“Another great experience and venue”

Elsewhere, Houman Goudarzi (Project Manager, Technology and Innovation, Airports and Fuel at IATA) provided an update on aviation information exchange standards, plus delegates heard about future-proofing common-use technology in today’s airports. There was also a presentation looking at the challenges of fusing data within the context of air transportation.

Before the networking lunch break, all delegates moved into breakout sessions which gave a platform for further discussion on topics such as IT departments and their future role within the overall airport environment.

Airport IT 2015 and Airport Security 2015

Topics looked at throughout the afternoon included: the integration of smart cities with a showcase of how this works at Athens International Airport; how to achieve ‘mobile thinking’ to transform daily staff operations with a look at how Heathrow Airport manages this; an impressive overview of how the world’s biggest airport project in Istanbul is addressing growing passenger numbers whilst maintaining efficiency and increasing revenues; what technology is available to track the performance of security checkpoints in real-time; plus how ground staff can use mobile information sharing systems technology to improve the efficiency of ground handling services.

“First time attending and definitely not the last one”

Day Two was Chaired by Dominic Nessi (Deputy Director/Chief Information Officer at Los Angeles World Airports) with a range of topics presented including a session on exploring the next steps towards the ‘Internet of Everything’, how Miami International Airport is using beacon technology to connect with mobile-enabled travellers and how the data captured can help to improve future passengers experiences.

As part of Greater Orlando Airport’s huge investment in redesigning check-in facilities, John Newsome, Director of Information Technology, highlighted what results have been sourced so far by incorporating innovative concepts and technologies.

Elsewhere, Lorenzo Belicchi (Airport Sales Director at SITA) – one of the event sponsors – took the stage to explain how technology innovation is building the passenger journey of tomorrow and how best to maximise revenues, improve customer satisfaction and drive efficiency.

Delegates could also choose from two more breakout sessions which included looking at the trends that are utilising technology in airport retail, plus assessing how management of critical airport processes can be effectively supported by up-to-date technology.

“Tremendous information”

In an afternoon Panel Discussion made up of several industry experts and moderated by Etienne van Zuijlen from SITA, the topic moved onto Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) and how the SESAR Airport Operations Management concept builds on A-CDM capabilities by extending the planning horizon and defining additional services. However, questions in the session highlighted if the technology is actually ready to support the next steps or will there be similar challenges to overcome.

Joint Session
A joint session bringing together attendees from both Airport Security and Airport IT to concentrate on cyber-security was a highlight of Day One. Delegates met at four different roundtables to discuss, develop and understand how the cyber threat is being tackled by airports and airlines around the globe. The ability to recognise threats and then prepare a comprehensive cyber-security strategy was a key focal point of the session, along with discussions around what technology and systems can be targets, how to manage situations and who has ultimate responsibility.

Speed networking
Delegates could end Day One by joining a networking drinks reception with a twist – speed networking! It was the perfect platform to continue discussions highlighted during the day and forging new relationships – over tapas!

Rounding-off the event, delegates had to opportunity to join one of two tours organised to further enhance their knowledge of airport security and information technology including a trip to Barcelona-El Prat Airport and a tour of the Vanderlande Factory.

International Airport Review would like to give a special thanks to all involved on the conference Advisory Board and the speakers for their input in helping to create the event programme. We would also like to thank our sponsors and supporters for their involvement, plus the exhibitors who helped create a welcoming and informative networking area.

If you would like to sign-up for next year’s event please visit or and join us in Dubai for 2016!

Related topics

, ,

Related organisations

Related people

Send this to a friend