The New Bomb Detectors
Many more people ride public transportation each year than go aboard airplanes, which tends to make public transportation inherently safer at the same time that it puts more people conceivably at risk.
The more people there are, the more likely someone would notice something, for example, that could tip authorities to the activity of a terrorist. The more people there are, the more witnesses, and the more eyes and ears potentially seeing and listening to what’s going on around them.
However, in many ways, the eyes and ears of the public are the most underutilized tools in the security arsenal because the public, by and large, cannot be depended on to be attentive.
All the surveillance cameras in the world cannot see everything, and there can never be enough security or law enforcement personnel to effectively cover every inch of a site. In the situations when there are gaps, public attentiveness can be a big help — if you can get the public to open its eyes and ears.
“If you see something unusual, warn others, move away and report it,” instructs a new set of posters being displayed in 669 cars and 43 stations of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in San Francisco. The message accompanies a black-and-white image showing a pair of wide-open eyes and the words “Bomb Detectors.” It’s a no-nonsense message whose bluntness is apparently geared at cutting through all the surrounding “noise” to actually get the attention of mass transit riders.
It is sometimes a challenge to draw attention to risk without scaring little children; however, these are not times for the faint of heart. The London bombings have gotten the attention of security professionals. Hopefully they have not escaped the notice of public transit passengers, too; or for that matter the notice of anyone who is part of a large group in a public location.
Threats are everywhere. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we all have to be on patrol.
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