Air Travel: Quicker & Safer?

In an article entitled "Software and Smart Cards", by Samantha Levine in the March 14, 2005 U.S. News and World Report, Samantha states that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is in the process of spending hundreds of millons of dollars in research and new technology aimed at taking some of the hassle out of the flying experience. Since June the TSA has been running a test program where registered, prescreened air passengers are on a "fast-track" program allowing them to bypass cumbersome checkpoints and skip most secondary screenings. The U.S. has now teamed with Amsterdam's "fast-track" flying security program to make flying international easier. The government is now giving the nod to the private-sector, i.e. individual airports and airlines, to develop their own "easy-pass" programs. Economists say that the private sector can do it in a more efficient way, both service and cost. Do you see any loopholes in this new system? Are prescreened passengers always going to faithful domestics or can a mole/terrorist work his way in? Is it smart for the government to let the private sector develop it's own "easy-pass" systems?


Jim said...

Interesting artical, I know that flying is more safe than driving, but will this new development make flying even safer?

Bart said...

Well Chuck, I think that this is probably a good idea, letting the private sector handle this fast pass since we have all seen the govt. in action. It would most likley take the govt. years to come up with somthing and many years more to implement it.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 for no link in Chuck's post, and for spelling errors in Jim's and Bart's comments.

I'm in favor of something like this. The problem with something like the TSA as a federal agency is that our legal system pretty much enforces a one-size-fits-all approach from government programs, and that clearly doesn't work in a lot of cases.

I think a terrorist could infiltrate a private system or a publicly run system. I'm inclined to think the incentive structure for catching them would be better designed in the private sector.

Fundamentally there is a problem here though, in that terrorists on planes are not interested in preserving their own lives. So, the deterrent for them has got to be capturing them first, and isolating them from communities where their views and position are of value. These proposals only look at the former of those, whereas we as a society are having a lot of trouble with the latter (think Guantanamo), even though that is probably the appropriate form of punishment for persons holding those views. I really don't think we're going to get a handle on this until potential terrorists know and understand that if caught they will spend time in a place where their behavior is not rewarded, and where they will not be able to maintain the "lifestyle" that they want.

Dr. Tufte said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stockton said...

Very interesting! I believe that flying is safer than driving, but with the instituting of private passes to individuals sends some sort of red flags. This simply looks like another way for terrorists to slip through the security systems. They will always find a way to filtrate everything, but this seems like it may be fairly easy to do so. I guess more information on the way things are set up and run would be more beneficial in order to make a better stand on such a subject.