Airport Grounds Crew Member

The Future of Aviation: A Safe Airport Starts With a Safe Workforce

Today, the concept of travel is an uncertain one. The global pandemic has affected the aviation industry more than any other event, with international travel plummeting and passenger numbers declining by almost 50% in 2021.  Now, with passenger numbers predicted to double in 2022, the aviation industry cautiously faces a return to pre-covid operations with unpredictable changes in mind.

For airports, these changes evoke the challenge of balancing, safety, security and operational efficiency in a landscape of new threats followed by compliance mandates that must be addressed.

These challenges are typically thought to be most important in the context of external customers and travelers, but what about how airports prepare for these changes with the workforce and with the thousands of internal identities that are vital to how airports operate on a daily basis?

As widespread travel starts to make its return, airports must ensure that they can restore their workforce numbers back to their usual, pre-pandemic operation levels. The question of how this can be done smoothly, safely and with the flexibility to adapt to even more new challenges is, understandably, headache-spurring for security professionals.

With change being an ideal opportunity to leverage new processes and technologies, now is the perfect time for airports to digitalize their experiences. As part of this, airports must be equipped with physical identity and access management (PIAM) solutions which work to automate and simplify their airport access control across their complex workforces.

PIAM: The Missing Piece of a Secure and Compliant Airport

A PIAM solution, such as HID SAFE™, streamlines the management of employee, contractor and visitor identities while enabling airports to comply with physical security regulations and govern complex access policies. Airport workforces are made up of thousands of identities which are constantly faced with role, license, endorsement, and contract changes — all which affect an identity's access rights. PIAM simplifies and automates these changes to ensure appropriate and secure access without the burden of manual processes.

Let’s go through a few challenges that airports face as they start to increase their capacity, and how a PIAM solution can create a more efficient, compliant and future-ready environment.

1. Quickly enrolling new contractors, workers and employees in accordance with fluctuating airport demands.

After a significantly reduced base of staff and contractors due to a plummet in travel demand, how well is your airport equipped to take back large volumes of staff?

It’s important to be able to quickly and seamlessly enroll workers to meet the new demands, allowing for an increased flow of traffic into your badging office without the accompanying customer service issues. This also includes tenants, vendors, airline personnel, ground transportation and third-party contractors.

With a PIAM solution, airports can automate the way in which these workers are enrolled and badged to speed up the onboarding process. And when web-based, such as with SAFE, these processes can also be conducted remotely, which limits the number of staff needed on site. Once badges have been created, changes can be made easily to their access nearly instantaneously.

2. Ensuring workers do not pose risks to fellow travelers or employees.

In airports, it’s not just about ensuring that travelers have been appropriately health screened and are fit to travel, but also making sure staff are fit to work and do not bring any risks into an already complex environment. Having a PIAM solution in place can simplify screening workflows during enrollment due to integration with other airport systems, such as document management, training management and criminal history check (CHRC) systems, health requirements and more. This ensures that the appropriate information, for instance rap back notifications, training, or insurance, is received before granting permissions or access.

With integration between a PIAM solution and a mass notification system, workers can be notified of a change in requirements before they come to work — whether this be social distancing guidelines, an important update or any airport specific requirements.

Not only can a PIAM solution like SAFE provide configurable workflows to suit organization-unique safety demands, but it also allows you to monitor all compliance related data, such as building access and identity information, to ensure that all companies and their workers consistently meet your requirements as well as applicable mandates.

3. Continuing to protect airports’ complex networks of systems, data and employees in a landscape of evolving threats.

Pandemic aside, airports have always been a target for direct attacks or used to facilitate illicit activities and must constantly work to mitigate insider threats. With dramatic changes to the way operations are carried out and further potential changes that lay ahead, airports must look to boost their security while maintaining compliance to changing mandates and regulations — whether these be local, state/provincial, or national/federal.

Many airports rely on traditional, siloed physical access control systems (PACS) that fail to work together and result in manual processes that are vulnerable to threats. These same PACS are generic solutions that are not purpose built for airports.

SAFE for Aviation is specifically designed to accommodate the unique compliance needs and workflows of modern airports. It reduces manual efforts by codifying and enforcing access rules while recording all requests, decisions, exceptions, and authentications. In doing this, airports can achieve organization-wide consistency in changes and controls that are captured within a single and easily accessible system. This dramatically improves efficiency and security by eliminating human error.

The centralized and standardized capturing of access rules, policies and activities reduces the overall audit cycle and the risk of financial or legal repercussions.

SAFE for Aviation

HID SAFE is a highly-scalable PIAM solution with optional capabilities built for airports. It streamlines identity, credential, access and policies management across multiple systems, user groups, buildings and regulations. Not only does HID SAFE enable airports to easily carry out all of the tasks explored so far in this post, but it consolidates information from various departments, e.g., facilities, finance, ticketing, Security Operations Center (SOC), and centralizes:

  • Reporting, audit and attestation
  • Biographic information
  • Document manager
  • Biometric enrollment
  • Background check systems  
  • Credential production
  • Access control

Airports always have, and always will, operate in environments of elevated risk. With an unpredictable future ahead, airports must be able to adapt without compromising security, safety and efficiency. Find out how HID SAFE can transform your airport with this brochure and video.