Media / Blog
Homeland Biosecurity at Airports is as Important as Terrorist Security (and More)
December 2, 2021
Covid-19 has transformed countless aspects of air travel in a very short period of time, imposing a radical, foundational change upon the air travel and transport industry long before a cohesive homeland biosecurity strategy and tactics were and will be in place. Our community – like all communities – has been forced to learn a great deal about biosecurity since the onset of Covid-19, and while we aren’t anywhere close to being out of the woods on the Covid-19 biosecurity threat, it’s now crystal clear to all involved that we need to be thinking about the next biosecurity threat.
This begins with a basic acknowledgement that the threat parameters associated with biosecurity are more sprawling, complex and dynamic relative to the physical terrorism security threats where we’ve been focusing the bulk of our security attention and expertise to date. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the industry’s commitment to preventing acts of airborne terrorism – and all the resources that entailed – has been nothing short of commendable.
Now that we have crossed the threshold to the “era of pandemics” we require a dramatic change in the way we grasp and deploy homeland security.
A STARK VIEW
We hesitate to compare the relative damage from calamities like Covid-19 and 9/11. Both are profound tragedies. Each speaks in its own terms.
What’s clear to us is that the death toll and economic impact of a biosecurity threat is by far significantly more wide-ranging and global reaching than that of a targeted airborne terror attack of ‘traditional’ means.
What makes biosecurity threats so insidious relative to physical security threats?
Invisibility – Deadly viruses and bacteria can’t be readily traced in the environment, whereas physical threats like terrorism manifest in ways that are visible, and can be screened for, to a degree. The key is to know where and when to look.
Unpredictability – Terrorist acts are guided by intent. Everyone understands what the intended outcome basically is, and our prevention efforts and instincts are focused accordingly – the terrorism textbook is pretty well established, unfortunately. Viruses and bacteria, on the other hand, have no intent. They don’t know where they’re going to go, so we don’t either.
Ubiquity – Viruses and bacteria can lurk anywhere and everywhere. The threat surface is literally any surface that can be physically touched. By comparison, airborne terrorist threats are generally contained to a narrower locus.
Perhaps the greatest threat to homeland security, as well as airline and airport security, will emerge when these two threats combine with one another in the form of a dangerous biological agent, deliberately let loose. And while all of these threats can seem incredibly daunting in their scale, we can’t be paralyzed with fear or inaction. There are some obvious places to begin focusing our efforts, and thereby begin to limit the biosecurity threat.
The areas where passengers’ personal effects and luggage are processed are crucial to this effort and need to be addressed as soon as possible, for the safety of the passengers, the handlers, and everyone adjacent – and the 2nd and 3rd circles of contacts that if infected will induce a state of pandemic. WarpUV’s AirFort portfolio/platform harnesses UV technology to act as a “disinfection firewall” for passenger belongings – it’s our way of contributing to the global biosecurity effort.
To adequately protect against biohazard threats at our airports, we need to start somewhere, and we need to start right now. For more information: Press@WarpUV.com
From The Media:
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If you are once again ready to hit the friendly skies, have you given any thought to biosecurity throughout your journey – not just on the airplane?
The onset and resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a near collapse of travel for business and pleasure. Consumers are understandably wary of visiting hotels, climbing aboard subways and trains, gathering with 5,000 of their closest friends on cruise ships and confining themselves within metal tubes 35,000 feet above the earth with the virus raging.
As is well reported, airlines have been hit particularly hard in all of this, with travelers only recently beginning to step outside their comfort zones again. The reality is air travel helps keep the economy rolling – with pleasure travelers bringing tourist dollars to locations far and wide, and business travelers helping fill hotels and restaurants and helping keep local economies afloat.
But airlines are still facing huge challenges. Many flight crew members and airport personnel, furloughed for many long months, have not and will not return. With staff in short supply, we’ve all heard from travelers about endless delays and missed flight connections, along with the inevitable Coronavirus cases among airport and airlines personnel. Add to that concerns around personal health during air travel. A variety of airlines are committed to thoroughly cleaning planes between flights. That’s a good step forward, but even fully disinfected planes are just one step in the spread of viruses, bacteria and other germs.
For instance, think about how many times a checked piece of luggage passes through someone’s hands. If one baggage handler has COVID-19 or has handled a bag contaminated with COVID, it is potentially being deposited on every subsequent piece of luggage he or she touches. If one contaminated bag on an incoming flight is handled by and infects a ground crew member it could be days before that person calls out sick with COVID symptoms, meanwhile he or she may have handled thousands of pieces of luggage. The same is true of carry-on luggage and handbags and other personal items brought aboard the aircraft.
Wearing gloves and facemasks can help airport personnel avoid COVID and other viruses and bacteria that may come into the airport through passengers and their luggage, but neither of those solutions does anything to stop the spread of contamination from one bag to the next. In fact, many studies early on during the COVID pandemic showed gloves were a good surface for transmitting the virus onto other surfaces.
Airports should take full homeland biosecurity as seriously as traditional homeland security, and part of biosecurity must include luggage disinfection. We believe the best means of cleansing luggage is with powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays that kill bacteria and viruses without damaging the bag or its contents. Our pioneering efforts in the luggage disinfection realm has led to our AirFort solution. Baggage can be run through AirFort at typical points of airport egress, including checked bag counter drop-off, at the security checkpoints for carry-on bags, and in the baggage handling area for incoming flights.
If you’d like to learn more about AirFort and how a proprietary technology can thoroughly cleanse luggage in just seconds, give us a shout here and click on our CONTACT page.