Incident management software finds its wings

Sept. 2, 2014
Having a common operating picture critical for securing airports

Airports are complex organizations with many different moving parts – multiple airlines flying in and out, security inside the terminal and around the perimeter, along with various stores and other facilities. From a broken toilet, to a theft at a store or an emergency landing, a variety of incidents happen every day at airports with responsibility for these incidents often spread across multiple security groups.

Despite this extreme complexity, there are incident management solutions that can pull all of the various areas together within a work group structure so that incidents and events can be managed in one cohesive manner.

Centralized Control

With centralized control provided by incident management software, airport operations have the ability to identify, respond, track, analyze, report, and investigate. This enables the most complete solution for responding to, reporting on and managing enterprise security events. Automated workflow engines can ensure the timely delivery of critical information while patterns and trends in incident activity can be revealed and the results provided to the entire airport or limited to a specific airline team.

Statistical reports, performance metrics and other reports can be presented in numerous ways and shared among selected locations, departments and employees. With any number of departments or airline personnel possibly involved in a security or operational issue, the incident management software functions across the enterprise for cross-divisional tracking, analysis and reporting. There is no more need for hand-written log books or computer spreadsheets or sending information by email. Integration with other operational systems ensures all mission-critical tools interact and communicate for a complete solution.

Advanced Management

On a daily basis, issues like airport policy violations, luggage theft, bomb scares, or a malfunctioning jet bridge must all be recorded and investigated. These procedures help maintain airport operations and ensure the ongoing safety of passengers, employees and assets. Use of incident management software enables pertinent airport personnel to more effectively do their job by providing instant access to information concerning any incidents, past or present.

Additionally, the software can coordinate the response to an incident by dispatching airport security (or the appropriate resource or personnel depending on the incident) and issuing notifications together with complete event documentation, analysis and reporting. Combining these separate procedural steps into one function saves time and eliminates manual entry errors. If the incident is of a more serious nature and requires further investigation or case management, the software can easily escalate the process from incident to investigation and dynamically link any related investigations into the case file. Data can be easily queried for trending, risk mitigation and performance metrics, and the knowledge gained can be used to ensure the best allocation of resources.

Building Blocks of Incident Management

Gathering and extracting the right information from the mountains of data generated in an airport environment is a monumental challenge for management, but is essential for the development of security safeguards. Incident management software overcomes these and other obstacles through adherence to standard processes or building blocks that help ensure procedural consistency, accuracy and ease of use.

The systematic framework of incident management software is designed to help airport operations improve the assessment and management of incidents in three distinct areas.

First, the collection of information from the various areas within the airport environment to a single database gives management a more complete overview and enables the identification of problems that can lead to security breaches or other operational issues. Second, the accumulated data can be mined to provide knowledge that can be acted upon to improve security. Third, follow-up investigation or escalation of the incident to case management has the capability to help reduce the consequences of any incidents and provide a single comprehensive case file that can be used for prosecution purposes.

For example, let’s say several airlines at one major international airport have reported an increase in the number of baggage thefts from their carousels. A review of the collected incident reports confirms the increased activity, and airport security initiates the process of information querying to look for patterns. It is discovered that the thefts are occurring primarily on Saturdays and from overseas flights. The large number of bags on the carousels combined with the commotion of families greeting arriving passengers has created vulnerability in the baggage claim area. The problem is resolved by re-instituting baggage claim check verification when exiting the area. The situation is also elevated for further investigation and a case management file is opened. Ultimately, the identification of the thieves is uncovered, and based on the evidence compiled in the case management file, successful prosecution is achieved.

Design Flexibility

Within the airport environment, each group is likely to have different risk priorities, but they are all interrelated. Sharing the wide array of information through an enterprise-wide incident management system that delivers custom alerts and real-time monitoring of sensitive conditions can lead to a reduction in incident activity and a cost savings for all departments involved. To achieve this, the system must be flexible enough to meet the unique requirements of each of its users.

For instance, airport security needs to have day-to-day, hour-to-hour knowledge of what is happening, where and when. Building maintenance, on the other hand, needs metrics on the frequency of escalator breakdowns so they can implement a regular maintenance schedule. Airport management uses the system to measure overall performance, and so on.

Today’s incident management solutions can be designed to identify those factors that affect each department’s unique risk, ROI, costs, legal, policy, and safety issues. While the needs will be different from department-to-department, the resulting design will encompass the overall enterprise strategies and objectives.

Incident management solutions provide airport personnel with a tremendous capability to improve performance by reducing the opportunity for incident activity to occur. Everyone is a stakeholder in the airline industry, and incident management software is a mission−critical tool that benefits everyone.

About the Author

Brian McIlravey | Chief Operating Officer, RightCrowd

Brian McIlravey is the Chief Operating Officer of RightCrowd. Over the last 30 years, Brian has been a frequent speaker at security industry events and has served on many panels and group presentations. He is a former executive member of the ASIS ITSC, the Physical Security Council, and member of the original ESRM Board. He currently sits on three security industry company advisory boards, all security technology companies around the world.