"When I arrived at LAX in 2007, I became aware of the vehicle checkpoints and the need to randomize their deployment," Southers says. Subsequently, Southers facilitated a meeting between his team at CREATE, of which Tambe was a part, and the LAX Police Department to discuss the feasibility of a pilot program. The meeting resulted in the ARMOR system.
The ARMOR system has such unlimited potential in homeland protection that Congress was recently briefed. In May, Southers told the full Congressional Committee on Homeland Security that the al Qaeda planning cycle depends on the comprehensive situational awareness acquired via pre-attack surveillance and reconnaissance of the intended target.
"It is most important for the attackers to determine the design and level of physical security, including protective policies, procedures and technology," Southers says.
Randomization prevents this.
"It is a proven fact that randomness increases security," Southers told Congress. "Randomization methodology was originally proposed by CREATE to assist in the deployment strategy of unmanned aerial vehicles over Afghanistan."
Southers calls commercial aviation the most institutionally hardened critical infrastructure since September 11, 2001, yet cautions that it remains a target, as the incident last summer in Scotland reveals. "We should learn from failed, as well as successful attacks because, while our vulnerabilities are unlimited, our resources are not," he says.
Sustainability is a critical component of resiliency.
Southers says we must facilitate the link between the laboratory and the operational world.
"Our best practices clearly illustrate the potential when these relationships are realized," he notes.
ARMOR is a good example.
Douglas Page (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a science/technology writer living in Pine Mountain, California.