The Transportation Security Administration is offering $15,000 in prizes to people who can come up with ideas to speed up the security system in American airports. With a keen ear towards the millions of complaints about the insufferable wait times, the government has decided to hand security over to the people.
According to the TSA, they are looking for a “scientific and stimulation modeling approach to meet queue design and configuration needs of the dynamic security screening environment.”
Can we just pause for a moment to reflect on the absurdity of that quote? Did a robot write that sentence? What does it even mean? All right, let’s see what this is all about.
In order to have a shot at the $15,000 top prize, successful applicants will have to consider all of the things that make American flights a pounding headache. This includes trying to implement tough security during peak hours, juggling disparate flight schedules, and working around the staffing schedules of the TSA. The deadline is August 15th, so make sure you send in your ideas quickly.
The entire contest leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not the bureaucratic doublespeak (although that’s part of it); it’s that I don’t believe the government is serious about improving airport security.
If you want to make improvements to the TSA, you don’t need to hold a contest – particularly one that is more for public relations purposes than any real goal of turning things around. Instead, look to examples of airport security done right. For that, you need look no further than Israel. Their El Al airline, one of the most obvious terrorist targets in the world, has been named the most secure airline in existence. Why? Because Israel doesn’t mess around when it comes to keeping passengers safe. Uninhibited by political correctness, they don’t hesitate to “racially profile” their passengers.
But you don’t even have to head down that controversial path to get results. Israel’s airport security works because they put money into it. They don’t hire clock-watchers for a minimum salary; the job pays well and it requires a great deal of training. They look for educated applicants who are multilingual. They put qualified applicants through weeks of on-the-job training as well as classroom education.
On the ground, they interview every single passenger that walks through the door. Now, people who are already fed up with the amount of time it takes to get on an airplane won’t like the sound of that, but El Al is one of the most efficient airlines in the world. There are few delays. Compare that to the TSA, who has succeeded in making travel a nightmare. That’s because Israeli security asks a few pertinent questions and gets on with it while the TSA is pulling little old white ladies out of the line to give them a full-body frisk. That isn’t security – it’s security theater. Take a cue from the Israelis and stop with the PR. Keep your $15,000, it’s on the house.