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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative 3 EXAMPLES OF KEY RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY NEEDS In response to the events of September 11, scientists, engineers, and technologists in the public and private sectors alike are expending a great deal of effort on finding ways to use science and technology to counter terrorism. A strategy that can help guide those efforts to achieve maximum benefits is crucial. An essential step in devising such a strategy is to systematically identify the most important research and technology needs. The list of such needs in Box 3-1, provided as a starting point that is by no means exhaustive, shows that a great deal of research and development over a wide range of technical areas is needed in the interest of transportation security. In the following sections, these needs are reviewed in greater detail. SYSTEMS-LEVEL RESEARCH Many technological capabilities, new or enhanced, will be needed to support well-designed, layered security systems in the transportation sector. Success will not occur, however, without systems-level research to help establish the big picture within which individual efforts—some of them novel ideas and innovations, others adaptations of technologies and procedures developed elsewhere with different primary aims—each must play their separate but interconnected parts. A fundamental need is a more thorough understanding of the operations, institutions, and other functions and characteristics of the transportation and logistics enterprises. This level of understanding is necessary to identify candidate security systems—for instance, to determine where the megaport-like
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative BOX 3-1 KEY RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY NEEDS FOR TRANSPORTATION SECURITY SYSTEM RESEARCH OPERATIONS Understanding of normal patterns of transportation activity and behavior Identification of anomalous and suspect activities Dual-use opportunities Opportunities to leverage security in operations HUMAN FACTORS Ability of security personnel to recognize context and patterns Design of security devices, facilities, and procedures that are efficient and reliable Understanding of means of obscuring the risk of getting caught Understanding of how technology can complement and supplement humans Creation of security institutions that are performance driven LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES Acceptability of surveillance systems Use of biometrics for identify verification Use of prescreening systems, and means to collect and protect personal information DETERRENCE Psychological studies to model terrorist types Deterrent effects of tactics to create uncertainty (e.g., “curtains of mystery”) Deterrent effects of layered countermeasures
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative PREVENTION Data-mining and other data evaluation techniques to filter out lower-risk users Understanding of the markers of risk associated with travelers Explosive detection systems capable of detecting a wider range of materials Means to network and combine sensors Standoff and accurate field sensors with low rates of false alarm Biometrics and other means of verifying travelers and operators MONITORING AND MITIGATION Real-time chemical sensors that are effective in complex environments Construction methods to harden transportation facilities Dispersal models for various agents in transportation environments Ways to use dispatch and control systems for consequence management Means of protecting traffic control systems from physical and cyber attacks RESPONSE AND RECOVERY Neutralizing agents, and robots that can be used to test areas and perform decontamination Communications capacity for emergency responders Regional emergency-response plans that coordinate highways and public transit INVESTIGATION AND ATTRIBUTION Integration of investigative capabilities into transportation operations and control systems.
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative linchpins (see Box 2-1) may lie for new security approaches. Systems-level research and analysis would also provide an understanding of normal patterns of transportation activity and behavior. Such understanding is essential for developing security programs that can filter out trusted passengers and shippers, and for designing and deploying networks of sensors in ways that enhance accuracy and reduce the incidence of missed and false alarms. An understanding of the operations and economics of transportation systems is also crucial if security is to be integrated with other transportation system objectives (as discussed in Chapter 2). For example, shippers and other commercial users of transportation may be willing to accept the outlays required for blast-resistant containers, electronic tamper-proof seals, and real-time recording of shipment manifests if those measures facilitate the general movement of cargo and better secure it against theft and loss.1 It will also be important to recognize that certain security approaches are practical and acceptable under some circumstances and impractical and unacceptable under others. For example, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, airline passengers have demonstrated a willingness to endure more time-consuming and intrusive security procedures. For many travelers, airline trips are long in any case and not a daily occurrence, and extra time can thus be spared for additional security measures. To be sure, similar inconveniences would not be so well accepted by passengers in the more time-sensitive modes used for daily commuting, and air travelers’ impatience with burdensome security procedures can be expected to grow over time, especially if the public views security procedures as more symbolic than substantive. The development of effective security measures therefore depends not only on good research pertaining to transportation operations, but also on an understanding of human factors. Such insight is needed for everything from designing airport security checkpoints that are more efficient and less error-prone to developing means of deterring terrorists through the “curtains of mystery” discussed in Chapter 2. Indeed, human factors are integral to all security initiatives, whether they entail technologies, procedures, or organizational structures. 1 See Badolato (2000) and Flynn (2000a; 2000b).
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative It is especially important that the role of people in operations and security be determined not by default, simply on the basis of technological possibilities, but as a result of systematic evaluations of human strengths and weaknesses that can be complemented and supplemented by technology. Human strengths, such as sensitivity to context and pattern recognition, may be difficult or unnecessary to replicate. Indeed, it may turn out that some technologies do not hold promise because they are inferior to, or incompatible with, the performance of human users; for instance, they might interfere with the performance of flight crews, bus drivers, or screeners.2 Many other nontechnical issues also loom large in the development and deployment of effective security systems. Privacy and civil rights controversies, for example, dominate the debate over data-mining and biometric technologies for passenger prescreening, identification, and surveillance—a debate pertinent not only to the transportation sector, but also to other technology-based realms.3 Though technological advances will undoubtedly continue to offer many new capabilities, some will raise new legal and ethical issues that must be addressed long before those capabilities are used. Sound systems-level research and analyses—addressing operational, institutional, and societal dimensions—can bring these issues to light. To be sure, the restructuring of transportation security technologies, techniques, and procedures to form coherent systems will not be easy. It will require an ability and willingness to step back and define security goals and performance expectations; to identify the layered systems best suited to meeting those goals and expectations; and to work with many public, private, and foreign entities to implement those systems. Security planners must be willing to question many existing security rules, institutional relationships, tactics, and technologies. To this end, much strategic planning, supported by well-targeted, systems-level research and analysis, will be required. 2 Prior experience with new technologies in aviation has shown the value of this approach, and FAA is now committed to early integration of human factors in its acquisition programs. 3 As an example, civil rights issues associated with automated passenger-profiling systems are discussed by the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (1997), which also offers recommendations for addressing those issues. In addition, the Computer Science and Telecommunication Board (CSTB 2002) reviews the policy and technological issues associated with national identification systems.
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative DETERRENCE As noted earlier, the impracticality of eliminating all transportation vulnerabilities means that efforts to deter must be a key part of transportation security strategies. That reality, together with the likelihood that deterrence has likely stopped many hostile acts against aircraft during the past decade, gives deterrence an essential early role in the line of defense against transportation terrorism. In a sector as large and as open as transportation, however, deterrence—or deflection of the hostile act to a less susceptible or less damaging target—cannot be achieved simply through traditional means involving “guards, guns, and gates.” Instead, deterrence will require sound intelligence information related to transportation security, along with the innovative use of resources and capabilities that together can create a high degree of uncertainty among terrorists about their chances of defeating the system (again, those “curtains of mystery”). The extent to which uncertainty can deter a terrorist from a specific target is itself a potentially important avenue of inquiry. How does the fear of getting caught influence actions? Even a terrorist intent on suicide does not want to be stopped before achieving his or her goals. Researchers conducting psychological studies have sought to model criminal attitudes by interviewing perpetrators, and similar studies could presumably be directed to terrorist attitudes in an effort to better understand the factors influencing their decisions to attack or avoid targets. Such knowledge could prove useful in assessing the deterrent effects of specific tactics, such as the use of chemical-sniffing dogs, the randomized deployment of surveillance cameras, and the publicizing of new but unspecified passenger screening procedures. PREVENTION If deterrence is unsuccessful, the next line of defense is prevention, whether by denying access through physical means—guards and fences, for example— or by using other methods of interception, such as passenger profiling, baggage inspection, and explosive detection. A topic likely to generate much research and debate in the years ahead is how best to filter out the lower-risk users of transportation systems so that security resources can be focused on anomalies
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative and higher-risk traffic. Advanced information technologies offer some promising tools for such identification and prescreening. What is needed, however, is a better understanding of the markers of risk, the kinds of data useful for identifying these markers, and the best means of interpreting and using the results for detection and control purposes. For example, the application of automated passenger prescreening systems may depend less on advances in biometrics, artificial intelligence, statistics, and computer hardware than on the kinds and quality of data that can be employed in these systems. Not only must the multiple, heterogeneous databases involved be accurate and compatible (both of which present major challenges), but the right information must also be extracted and combined. For example, how can data on a traveler’s financial records, immigration status, legal history, demographic characteristics, and matches to traveling companions on the same flight be used to evaluate his or her security risk, and who will then act on the results? Will new databases be created by the linking of various private and public data sources? And if so, how will the information be stored and protected, and who will have access to it and for what purposes? Research on numerous such issues is clearly required to help policy makers evaluate preventive measures.4 Yet another prevention-related need is for explosive-detection systems that are sensitive to a wider range of materials. At the moment, many threats are not detectable; for instance, a pouch sealed in plastic and taped on a person’s body may not register with available screening devices. New and emerging techniques could help augment existing detection capabilities. For example, three sensor technologies for detecting explosives appear to hold promise: X-ray diffraction, which detects several types of explosives; microwave/ millimeter wave scanners, which can penetrate denser substances; and nuclear quadrupole resonance, which can identify the chemical composition of selected materials.5 4 See CSTB (2002) for a review of important technological and policy issues associated with the development and use of databases for identification systems. 5 See NRC (1996; 1999; 2002) for more detailed assessments of deployed and emerging technologies designed to improve aviation security.
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative What is clear, however, is that no single sensor technology can be expected to detect all threats with acceptable accuracy. Thus an array of sensor technologies will need to be developed and used together in a reliable, networked manner whereby each sensor can cross-check the validity of the readings of others. Such systematic cross-checking can help reduce the incidence of false alarms and the need for inconvenient and costly follow-on searches, such as manual baggage inspections. In general, all detectors—whether they sense explosives, say, or radiological materials—need to be made more accurate for use in transportation modes, where an excessive rate of false alarms can wreak havoc. They must also be made smaller, more affordable, and capable of operating at greater ranges. These latter requirements are particularly important if detectors are to be deployed strategically in the surface transportation modes. MONITORING AND MITIGATION Knowing when a hostile attack is under way, diagnosing it quickly and accurately, predicting its course, and mitigating its harmful effects are crucial capabilities. Monitoring is essential to all these crisis-management functions. Indeed, as noted in Chapter 2, the use of FAA’s air traffic management system to ground aircraft on September 11 demonstrated how existing traffic operation and control systems could be used to detect a terrorist attack in progress and help manage the crisis. Likewise, the fast and decisive actions taken by local traffic control centers to prevent commuter and subway trains from passing under the World Trade Center may have saved hundreds of lives. Monitoring capabilities that are not yet available but could prove crucial in transportation settings include real-time sensors that can rapidly detect the presence of a wide variety of chemical agents. In a busy transportation environment, rapid recognition of a threat is critical to ensure appropriate response. A prerequisite for the development of such sensor systems is baseline information on the background chemicals in facilities such as subway systems and airport terminals, especially to ensure that sensor systems are designed to balance the risks associated with false positive and negative readings. On the one hand, excessive false alarm rates are a major concern for
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative transportation operators, lest localized service disruptions propagate regularly across an entire network; excessive false alarms eventually lead to alerts being ignored and alarm systems being turned off. On the other hand, just one missed or neglected alarm runs the risk of exposing thousands of people to deadly agents and postponing effective emergency response. An appropriate balance must be struck between such risks. To this end, risk modeling and human factors assessments are essential. With regard to mitigation, research on architectural features, materials, and construction methods that can be used to harden transportation facilities has the potential to illuminate ways of mitigating the effects of a blast. This research could also reveal means of protecting structures from earthquakes and other natural disasters, although such correlations warrant further study. Similarly, the design of blast-resistant containers for aviation could be helpful for other modes. The Department of Defense has already conducted much research on blast-resistant designs, materials, and structures, some of which may be applicable for transportation purposes. There is a great deal of interest in the transportation community not only in mitigating the effects of explosions, but also in containing releases of chemical and biological agents. Specialized research on the dispersal of various agents within different transportation environments is required. An understanding is needed, for instance, of how trains moving in subway tunnels may push contaminants within the underground system and through external vents into the streets above.6 In addition to aiding in the design of sensor networks, such knowledge could help in the development of effective mitigation measures, such as ventilation barriers and filters, and in the formulation of emergency response plans. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY A key to effective response following an event is the capability to communicate and coordinate the actions of firefighters, police, elected officials, and transportation agencies across numerous jurisdictions. Communication 6 See Policastro and Gordon (1999) and Policastro et al. (2002).
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative paths, equipment, and protocols must be established in advance as part of emergency response plans, and sizable capacity must be made available quickly without having to disrupt basic communication links. R&D to enhance emergency decision making and communication protocols and capabilities is important to the transportation community, as it is to other participants in incident response. As noted earlier, the ability to recover and reconstitute transportation services quickly is crucial for limiting the cascading effects of terrorist attacks. Doing so may require a range of capabilities, from specific means to reroute traffic around disrupted areas to the development of well-rehearsed regional emergency response plans that coordinate highway and public transportation systems. The restoration of transportation services following an attack also requires a range of technological capabilities—for example, neutralizing agents and robots that can survey affected areas and perform decontamination, and tools for the rapid repair of key infrastructure elements to render them at least minimally functional. INVESTIGATION AND ATTRIBUTION To aid in the deterrence and prevention of further attacks, technologies and techniques to assist in investigation and attribution of past attacks will be needed. Catching perpetrators before they can do harm again is, of course, one reason to investigate and seek attribution. Another is to learn from an attack in order to prevent others in the future. Following the September 11 attacks, data gathered from the air traffic control system were used to reconstruct the timing and pattern of the four airline hijackings. Much as cockpit voice recorders and flight data boxes are critical for reconstructing airline crashes, such analyses could prove helpful in designing better means of monitoring traffic and recognizing the early signs of an attack. How best to develop such investigative capabilities is a potentially important avenue of inquiry.
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative REFERENCES ABBREVIATIONS CSTB Computer Science and Telecommunication Board NRC National Research Council Badolato, E. 2000. Cargo Security: High-Tech Protection, High-Tech Threats. TR News, No. 211, Nov.–Dec., pp.14–17. CSTB. 2002. IDs—Not That Easy: Questions About National Identity Systems. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. Flynn, S. E. 2000a. Beyond Border Control. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 70, No. 6, Nov.–Dec. Flynn, S. E. 2000b. Transportation Security: Agenda for the 21st Century. TR News, No. 211, Nov.–Dec., pp. 3–7. NRC. 1996. Airline Passenger Security Screening: New Technologies and Implementation Issues. Publication NMAB-482-1. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 1999. Improving Surface Transportation Security: A Research and Development Strategy. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 2002. Assessment of Technologies Deployed to Improve Aviation Security: Second Report. Progress Toward Objectives. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. Policastro, A. J., and S. P. Gordon. 1999. The Use of Technology in Preparing Subway Systems for Chemical/Biological Terrorism. Proceedings of the 1999 Commuter Rail/Rapid Transit Conference, Toronto, American Public Transportation Association. Policastro, A. J., F. O’Hare, D. Brown, M. Lazaro, and S. Filer. 2002. Guidelines for Managing Suspected Chemical and Biological Agent Incidents in Rail Tunnel System. Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., Jan. White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. 1997. Final Report to President Clinton. Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., Feb. 12.
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