Picture yourself having a good time with your significant other, friend or family member, at a sports event, like a basketball game. Your team wins, you’re about to leave and the next thing you know, something happens near-by that causes people to panic and run towards you. You have no idea what’s going on but you have to keep moving or people will run you over. Later you realize that you just witnessed a terrorist attack. How would you feel? What would you do?
I don’t know what I would do. Thankfully, I have never been near a terror attack, even though they have occurred at virtually all imaginable venues: a stadium, a movie theatre, a social services centre, a church … Just like many others, I’m concerned about visiting public spaces because one never knows what might happen. How can we protect ourselves and others should the worst case scenario happen?
From my point of view, a terrorist targets places where people gather close together, but where they’re not that focused on any particular person around them. None of us are able to keep an eye on every single person who’s within 10 meters of us, when we are at places like a metro station or a popular museum. Because of this proximity to other people, we also panic easier: we are not sure what’s going on, but because of the experiences we’ve had so far with terrorism, it’s better to react and get out as quickly as possible.
So why don’t we just check everyone for deadly weapons? I don’t think that’s an option, not with the current techniques and equipment. I personally don’t have the time or the interest to go through an airport-style security process every time I’m taking the metro, and I don’t even use it daily. They would just create crowded check-point lines, which are themselves just another target for a terrorist.
What scares me the most about a terrorist attack is that it can kill so many people in a blink of an eye without any possibility for the police or security to interfere. Even when the attack fails, for example if a bomb doesn’t go off as planned, people can get hurt in the aftermath. Another factor to consider is the damage to buildings that the attack causes; it can destroy some of our favourite spots for a long time, if not for good.
Hence what could, would, should be a solution? Well, there is no simple fix to security anywhere, let alone a mass transit hub or a football stadium. However, we at Asqella have developed a passive walk-by people screening device – ARGON – which is unique in the field of security. Screening people with ARGON requires no divesting of small items nor stopping to pose, like in front of a whole-body imaging (WBI) device. These factors allow people to move quickly without interruption through the screening process.
ARGON detects large items concealed under clothing but it functions as a part of a larger security plan to ensure safety of all visitors and employees. When ARGON detects an anomaly, the other integrated security measures can aid in resolving the alarm the best way possible, whether that’s through additional screening and/or discreet capture of the person in question. Ultimately, the goal of security in public places is to find a way to screen people without creating an atmosphere of fear or uncertainty, but instead allowing us all to feel safe and go about our daily lives as usual.