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2002 Speeches
Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens

Vice President Homeland Security and Services

Integrated Defense Systems

"Connecting and Protecting the Nation's Airports"

George Washington University

Aviation Security Seminar

Washington, D.C.

November 01, 2002

Thank you for that introduction Professor Jenkins.

It's a pleasure to visit your aviation institute, Darryl. I don't think there's anyone in aviation who doesn't recognize the valuable work you do here, not just educating those who help this industry operate, but the voice of reason you present to the public when you're called on to talk to the news media. This kind of rational discussion of the issues of our industry is important.

As we all know -- the landscape of air travel has irrevocably changed since 9/11. And the flying experience has become a different reality.

Airports are now part of our national defense infrastructure. Bags are screened for explosives --- passengers are searched at security checkpoints --- and sky marshals patrol flights.

I think I speak on behalf of everyone in this room today when I say that there is nothing more important to the American people, our nation, and our economy than to safeguard our aviation industry from further attacks as witnessed on 9/11.

Ironically enough, next year marks the 100th anniversary of flight. Since that historic flight by the Wright Brothers, we've introduced the jet age and a booming global industry. Now we're faced with terrorism and an industry struggling to regain its footing. The industry has been hit hard the last couple of years -- millions of jobs and billions of dollars are at stake for the United States and world economies. Just two years ago, aviation represented a $900 Billion market with 11 million jobs. That's nine percent of the gross domestic product. Now our airlines lost $7.7 Billion in 2001 and another $7-plus Billion losses are expected again this year. And three of our nation's largest carriers are posting stunning net loses -- and one is on the brink of bankruptcy. As you well know, these losses have had a significant impact on the Boeing Company and we are motivated to do all that we can to support our customers and the industry at large recover.

We -- at Boeing -- have always considered it an honor and a privilege to hold the safety of millions of air travelers in our hands. We do this with thousands of our aircraft flying everyday. And we consider it an honor to play a role in helping secure our industry from further harm. We're committed to safe air travel and restoring our industry to robust levels.

Our job is to stop terrorism from utilizing aviation and the other means of transporting commerce as the implements of terrorism so that people feel safe and secure in air travel and the means that support economic prosperity are protected. Safety and security is our greatest priority.

And to do that -- we must be vigilant. We must anticipate aviation security challenges on all fronts -- which is what I'd like to discuss today.

I'd like to first of all address how we're supporting the TSA in securing our nation's airports with explosive detection technology and a new security-screening workforce.

Then I'd like to talk about where we're going in the future with technology. And finally --- I want to share with you our vision of a network centric world -- where arming ourselves with information in a global, integrated network centric system will be our best tool to deter terrorism.

Let me begin by addressing the immediate actions taken to secure our airports since 9/11.

As we all know, there's a new look and feel to U.S. airport security. From curbside to gate -- the TSA is now responsible for the safety of nearly 700 million passengers and securing nearly 1 billion pieces of checked luggage each year.

And our national borders are no longer lines on a map -- but extend to international airports. That's quite a territory to cover.

The Transportation Security Administration hit the ground running by awarding multiple contracts aimed at meeting a December 31st deadline. Boeing and the Siemens Corporation partnered to install and maintain 1,100 explosives detection baggage-screening systems and up to 5,000 explosive trace detection machines in the 400+ U.S. commercial airports by the end of this year. Our team is also tasked with training the several thousand baggage screeners hired by the TSA to operate the machines.

The TSA has also tasked Lockheed Martin to train the screeners necessary to operate the passenger checkpoints and modify those checkpoints to ensure a thorough but hassle free screening prior to proceeding to their aircraft gate. And having been through many of those checkpoints now I can say TSA and Lockheed Martin have put a great deal of effort into the customer service aspect of the training.

Immediately after contract award, our team began meeting the stakeholders involved in security. The group consists of several thousand people that includes the Federal Security Directors, or FSD's, who are responsible for implementing the security requirements, airport leaders, and airline officials both at the corporate and airport level. And of course, the Transportation Security Administration team that we essentially work with round the clock to ensure clarity of requirements and resolve program challenges. We are running extensive modeling and simulation tests on everything from passenger movement, to terminal space, to baggage flow rates to determine the number of machines and staff needed at each airport. I believe at this point, we are employing more modeling and simulation capabilities than ever used before in this industry.

We have found that when you've been to one airport, you've seen one airport -- every one is unique and because of that, we can't take a "cookie cutter" approach to this project.

For example, many airports don't even have the space for additional equipment. Take SeaTac airport, for example -- where there's only 16 feet from the ticket counter to the waiting area. We have to carefully balance where these machines go without adding more congestion in the terminal.

We work closely with the stakeholders under some very trying time constraints, suggest to the TSA how many machines are needed -- what kinds of machines are needed -- how many people it'll take to do the job -- and whether passengers need to be there when their bags are screened.

We're working closely with the TSA, airlines, and airport officials to get the job done. As you might expect -- this is a mammoth project -- but not an insurmountable challenge.

We're putting these machines in the smaller airports first because the process is less involved and have construction underway at the larger airports. As of last night, 96 airports have equipment installed. Before the day is complete over 100 will be ready for service. We're doing our very best to keep passengers moving through the airports -- because if we don't -- they won't fly.

This is a tough job but we're making significant headway against the deadline mandated by Congress. We have the best industry teams in place, and are working with a customer and set of stakeholders that are dedicated to aviation security and have rallied our respective global resources to make it happen.

The Explosives Detection Systems, or EDS, and trace detection machines are the best technology certified today by the TSA to detect explosives. However, this isn't the end solution by a long stretch of the imagination, which is a lead in to my second point today. The Bush Administration continues to support research and advanced technologies -- including the next generation EDS/ETS machines.

In addition, there are technologies aimed at tracking passengers and bags to check for authenticity and security. Like radio frequency tags attached to luggage that can tell airlines what has been checked and help us find specific bags in cargo holds.

And technologies like biometrics that identify physical characteristics. As many of you know, biometric technology is not far away. Biometric technology could be something like fingerprint scanning, hand geometry, iris and retina recognition, and voice verification.

And we might also see Smart Cards -- a credit card looking device with a small-embedded computer chip that stores our personal and biometric information.

These human blueprints can arm airport officials with valuable information. And information is key to where we are going with aviation security. It's not enough to check every bag and person passing through our airports -- we have to have an integrated network in place to always stay one step ahead of potential threats.

It's great if we catch someone going through security with a concealed weapon -- but its even better if we catch them before they step one foot inside any airport.

Terrorists are strategists. They choose their targets deliberately. We have to catch them before they act. And to do that, we must augment and integrate the best information and management systems possible to collect information and connect the dots in time to thwart any attack.

We need to see -- to know -- and to understand.

A network centric environment -- which is my third point today -- is about creating the systems and capabilities that allow us to understand the situation with speed, accuracy efficiency. It's about integrating communications and information systems that provide insight into the status of security from airplanes to airports, from cargo to passengers. It's about using sensors to gather data, integrate it, and correlate it, in order to create an integrated awareness of the situation so that key decisions can be reached and actions taken. It's about systems that can talk to each other in what we call network centric operations.

This is Boeing's vision of the future, one that we began working on a number of years ago and is now has become the basis for a number of transformational program within the Department of Defense. The same concepts, approaches, and tool that are supporting the Army in its transformation through the Future Combat System are directly applicable to aviation security. The same technology and capabilities that are helping the DoD connect across multiple radio frequencies and signatures are being connected through the Joint Radio Tactical System and can help break down the barriers in order to connect the diverse network of communication systems across America used by the thousands of organizations involved in the security of this nation. And the tools used to simulate and model the complex challenges of integration of the multitude of sources of information into common situational awareness and common operating pictures can be made available today as we help a number of customers develop the network centric systems that will allow them to operate with less equipment, less support, and less cost, yet maintain the readiness and fighting capability that is a hallmark of this nation and necessary to thwart the threats of an enemy.

In order to illustrate the point, let me describe a bit more about the Army's Future Combat System. The challenge faced by the war fighter is having a solid understanding of the enemy's situation, and being able to deploy sufficient force and capability to decisively defeat that enemy. Providing an integrated and real time view of the situation and providing that information can allow those waging the war focus resources thereby getting the job done with greater focus and efficiency and therefore less equipment, manpower and an order of magnitude smaller logistics tail.

Imagine where each piece of equipment in the battlefield is a node in a large integrated network. As a node it is not only a sensor where information is gathered and transmitted to other node, but also a point that can be used to hand off information from other nodes to yet other nodes. Further, imagine that as pieces of equipment and or people enter the network, a new node is formed... or when a piece of equipment or people leave, the network automatically reforms to keep the rest of the integrated network in place. Now imagine being able to take the information gathered from each node and being able to integrate it into a common operating picture so that everyone begins to see the same picture about the landscape, the enemy, the status of weapons, the status of the logistics trail. With that information, you can begin to see patterns, understand intent and use the information to focus resources on thwarting the enemy actions and decisively counter their activities. That's what we are designing and developing today and that is the same set of capabilities that is becoming available today to meet the challenges and threats being posed against our aviation industry today.

With that in mind, let's consider the possibilities for aviation security. Let me start with a scenario that can bring a sense of perspective about the elements of a network that are available today, but many may not consider.

Imagine if -- a live feed video surveillance camera captures the picture of every passenger at the ticket counter and another of that passenger going through baggage screening with their bag -- and yet a third picture of that passenger boarding the flight.

Now lets imagine surveillance cameras capture a picture of an individual escaping security. Or let's say that someone enters the airport through an unauthorized door. A picture is taken of the individual and security is instantly alerted.

The challenge today is not that the information is not available, but rather, there are multiple screens and independent systems of video feed where those in airport security must oversee and monitor to get a sense of the "situation" of physical security. With today's sensors and integration capabilities available, those video feeds can become the sensors in a network centric operation that is part of an integrated high fidelity 3D image of the airport. Where the system, based on sensor information will automatically zoom in on different areas and walk around, providing the security team with the situation and status of airport security without ever leaving their location seat. The security officer now knows where he's at in the airport -- what terminal he's looking at -- what camera is he looking at -- and the surroundings.

Systems are available today that provide that capability and are already being deployed to meet physical security needs. We're able to do this through a visualization technology at Boeing's Autometric in Virginia. They produce these 3D models by extracting terrain and feature data from digital imagery gathered by scanned aerial photos or satellites.

Then using their Visual Security Operations Console technology -- or what we call VSOC -- information from multiple security systems including cameras, perimeter security, video motion sensors, and intrusion detection systems is fused into in a single, intuitive display for security monitoring. Basically -- it's taking vast amounts of geo-spatial information and real time data and instantly turns the information into "pictures" of the situation. The VSOC tool flies to different locations within the airport giving the viewer a virtual tour of the area where the suspect is heading.

Now imagine that the sensors on the checked baggage explosive detection system are also nodes in the system. Integrated information about passengers coupled with critical baggage screening information can be integrated to provide yet another set of integrated information.

Imagine the reservation system being yet another node in the integrated network. Physical information, integrated with passenger information, integrated with baggage information coupled with sophisticated tools can then be able to see patterns that occur at specific terminals in airports, across airports, even across regions or at a national basis.

With integrated information from sensors, across the entire security network, those vested with responsibility for maintaining a safe, efficient security operation will have a common view of the situation. An added benefit is the gathering of information about airport and individual airline operations that can then be used to model not only the current airport and air terminal operation, but can be used to consider how to improve airport operations that result deployment of fewer resources and lower operating costs... terrific for homeland security... great for industry.

Now imagine another scenario -- where additional nodes are added to the network and the picture is much broader where a pattern emerges that allows connecting the dots, so to speak -- and alert authorities of potential threats in process.

The example here involves security breaches and a series of unrelated events occurring in different cities at different times.

Imagine if -- in New York, for instance, a flight attendant's uniform is stolen from her hotel room. And maybe -- last week, in Chicago, a car is parked too long outside O'Hara airport. At SeaTac airport in Seattle a couple of months ago, someone is caught going through screening with a suspicious weapon. And yesterday, in Florida, a woman walked through a door at Orlando airport, setting off an alarm.

These seemingly benign security breaches may not represent a pattern to authorities, but to software intelligent agents mining this network of information -- they do.

These seemingly benign security breaches -- in fact -- represent a potential threat. By instantly connecting the dots as these reports are deposited on the network -- these software intelligent agents discover that the man caught carrying a suspicious weapon through security in Seattle shares a common address with the driver of the parked car in Chicago. And that these individuals shared the same credit card information.

A potential threat? Perhaps. But it would take months -- if not years -- for investigators to piece together the clues and connect the dots. Software intelligent agents act like a continually running search engine -- it's like Google with its engine revved all the time. In fact, you don't have to tell the search engine to go find the information -- it does it for you. It anticipates your needs based on knowing your requirements.

These software intelligent agents pull the information together in a matter of minutes -- presenting authorities with a threat correlation report and probability of a plausible terrorist plot. They're looking for the common thread -- like shared phone numbers, credit card and drivers license numbers, flight data. By having software intelligent agents continually mining the network for information and instantly recognizing patterns and correlations between events -- the network becomes our best arsenal in the war on terrorism.

Every day we are reminded that security is a paramount. We have to constantly be on alert to suspicious activities in airports and onboard airplanes.

In the last seven months alone -- authorities have seized more than 3 million items at airports -- and an average of four people a day are arrested for weapons violations. More than 800 guns -- nearly 80,000 knives --- and more than 31,000 box cutters have been confiscated.

Clearly -- the threat is still there and in all probability -- will always be there.

Thus, ensuring safety of the homeland must have both physical security safeguards and the tools to spot trends and threats through an integrated network centric capability. In the end, we believe it is about integrated systems and network centric operations that allow all systems to be nodes... whether individual airports security systems, reservations system, communication systems, air traffic management system, airport operation system and sharing that information with all involved in aviation operations, security and management.

In closing --

There's no doubt about it. Securing the American Homeland and improving air safety has become a national strategy of paramount importance.

Our industry is responding to the call of duty in protecting our Homeland. And American ingenuity is our greatest front line defense against terrorism. Homeland Security is leveraging what is going on in the commercial IT world to develop a network centric environment. We will use our technology to protect our liberty -- strengthen our economy -- and make us more competitive.

Terrorism depends on the element of surprise -- and threats are moving targets. 9/11 reminds me -- in some ways -- of the Trojan War. Our airplanes were -- in essence -- the Trojan horse. Sometimes it doesn't matter how many ships or weapons you have in your arsenal. The Greeks -- in fact -- overtook the city of Troy with a simple wooden horse versus their fleet of one thousand ships.

What that has taught us is that winning the conflict is more about strategy, information, and the element of surprise than about brute force and traditional weapons of war. It's more important to outwit the opponent and strategize their next move rather than building an arsenal of weapons after the fact.

Aviation security isn't about being reactive -- it's about being proactive . With machines that search for contraband -- with advanced surveillance systems -- with biometric technology -- and with a network centric concepts and operations in place.

In order to be proactive -- we must have information at our fingertips -- at all times continually investigating before the fact.

We know this works -- we've proven it in our integration centers and for the DoD.

Aviation security embodies the network centric, information superiority vision of tomorrow. And our industry, and companies like Boeing and others -- are responding to the government's call to duty. We're lifting the design off the drawing board to build new technologies that will defeat terrorism and grow the economy.

I've heard it said that, "We're drowning in information and starving for knowledge."

Our systems need to give us all of the information we need, but until we tie them together and they talk to each other, we're still vulnerable. We need information -- the right information to the right people at the right time. But more importantly -- we need knowledge to move forward. And a network centric environment gives us that knowledge. Knowledge becomes our strategic advantage. It's the power of the network.

Thank you.