Transportation Security

Attacks on a country's transportation infrastructure can have serious and destabilizing impacts that are further complicated by the public availability of information relevant to these targets. Recognizing the potential damage of such attacks, RAND conducts research and provides essential planning and vulnerability assessment tools to public and private organizations from metropolitan transit authorities to airlines and rail companies.

  • Airline passengers wait in line before passing through a TSA checkpoint at LAX

    Commentary

    TSA's Cellphone Rule Part of Deadly Race

    While placing explosives inside a cellphone is plausible, it is almost impossible to do so with iPhones without rendering them non-functional, which is why the TSA is now checking cell phones are actually working.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • car interior with a dashboard computer

    Commentary

    Sounding the Car Alarm on Hackers

    Security protections on vehicles have not kept pace with systems that control safety features, navigation capabilities, and wireless communication functions. Onboard computer networks will likely become much more attractive to hackers.

    Jun 30, 2014

  • A commercial aircraft being serviced at an airport terminal

    Commentary

    The Breach of Security at San Jose's Airport Raises Broader Issues

    Those charged with security must think in terms of 360-degree security—not only screening passengers coming through the terminal, but also preventing unauthorized access to the aircraft from the air operations side of airport.

    May 13, 2014

  • Passengers line up in LaGuardia Airport as it was reopened after being evacuated due to a suspicious package being found by a baggage handler, February 4, 2014

    Commentary

    Experts Are Working to Develop Evidence-Based Ways to Measure Anti-Terrorism Efforts

    The effects of security measures ought not to be measured solely in terms of prevention. Different types of countermeasures produce different effects, such as deterrence, making it easier for security to intervene during an attempted attack, and providing visible security that reassures the public.

    Feb 7, 2014

  • A bomb ripped apart a bus in Volgograd on Monday, killing 14 people in the second deadly attack in 24 hours

    Commentary

    Why Did Terrorists Attack Volgograd?

    The Volgograd attacks have brought renewed world attention to the unresolved conflict in the turbulent Caucasus. The bombings no doubt have rattled Russian nerves. While Umarov's reputation among extremists will rise, President Putin's reputation as defender of Russia is at stake.

    Dec 31, 2013

  • A line of TSA personnel salute the U.S. Honor Flag procession as it leaves LAX at a ceremony in memory of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez November 6, 2013

    Commentary

    Want to Create Problems? Arm the TSA

    With its current 47,000 screeners, an armed TSA would become the federal government's largest armed entity outside of the military. In the eyes of many, arming TSA screeners would change the image of the organization from a service aimed at guaranteeing safe air travel to an unwanted imposition of federal authority.

    Nov 7, 2013

  • Delayed passengers stand behind a police cordon after a shooting incident at Los Angeles airport (LAX)

    Commentary

    Airport Violence—Not a New Phenomenon

    Shootings at airports are nothing new, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. In fact, they have regularly occurred worldwide in recent years. The motives have included terrorism, crime, and mental illness.

    Nov 2, 2013

  • airport-security-3382932556_0bd211465e_o

    Solution

    Increasing Air Security with "Trusted Travelers"

    Long lines at airport security checkpoints are a sign of the post-9/11 world. Can aviation security be more efficient? Better yet, could a “trusted traveler” program not only reduce traveler burden but also increase security?

    Sep 1, 2013

  • The Harbor Police K-9 Team explosive detection canine perform a search on luggage at San Diego International Airport

    Commentary

    More Secure or Less Free?

    It is not surprising that people report a willingness to trade convenience, money, and liberty for security. Legal precedent reinforces that decreased civil liberties may be accepted when confronting existential threats with demonstrably effective security—to a point, writes Henry H. Willis.

    Dec 17, 2012

  • Man at Security Checkpoint

    Commentary

    Fake Boarding Pass Fears Inflated

    Instead of ratcheting back the PreCheck program because of manufactured fears about security lapses, TSA should be encouraged to expand this program to more airlines, more airports and more infrequent travelers, write Jack Riley and Lily Ablon.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • airport security check with passenger walking through metal detector

    Report

    An Assessment of TSA's Risk Management Analysis Tool Finds Some Gaps

    The Transportation Security Administration's RMAT has enabled a more sophisticated understanding of terrorism risks to the air transportation system, but TSA should not treat RMAT results as credible estimates. Rather, the results can help to inform the components of terrorism risk and possible influences of system changes on that risk.

    Nov 26, 2012

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    Commentary

    TSA Procedures Need to Be Remade from Scratch

    It is time for a new approach to meeting America's next-generation aviation security needs, one that dodges the influence of politics and bureaucracies and relies instead on the resources and objectivity of independent researchers operating from a clean slate, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 28, 2012

  • A traveler walks through a metal detector at a security check point in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, February, 29, 2012

    Report

    After Four Decades, It's Time for a Fundamental Review of Aviation Security

    Budgetary constraints, heavy passenger loads, and popular hostility toward screening procedures are all challenges to securing commercial aviation. After 40 years of focus on tactical measures, it is time for a sweeping review of aviation security.

    Aug 29, 2012

  • Report

    Weighing the Costs, Benefits, and Efficiency of Aviation Security Measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost. Efficient security policy—a focus on getting the most security for the least cost—should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity.

    Aug 21, 2012

  • News Release

    Costs, Benefits, and Efficiency of Aviation Security Measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost. Efficient security policy—a focus on getting the most security for the least cost—should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity.

    Aug 21, 2012

  • Content

    Rights of Passage Conference on Threats to Shipping in the Middle East

    The conference will provide high-level analysis and risk assessments for shipping, energy and related sectors by the political, military and intelligence echelons, enabling the industry to factor these critical elements into planning and operations.

    Jun 15, 2012

  • Commentary

    Three Ways to Improve Airport Screening

    The TSA's pilot "Pre-check" program that pre-screens travelers who volunteer for it is an overdue advance in security, but it does not address some larger issues surrounding America's airports, writes K. Jack Riley.

    Mar 7, 2012

  • People at an Airport

    Journal Article

    Assessing the Security Benefits of a Trusted Traveler Program in the Presence of Attempted Attacker Exploitation and Compromise

    Fears that terrorists may exploit the minimal security screening of trusted traveler programs have dissuaded the adoption of such programs. Such attempts would reduce the maximum potential security benefits of a program, but they would not eliminate those benefits in all circumstances.

    Mar 1, 2012

  • Research Brief

    Targeted Use of Theater Inventory to Effectively Sustain Overseas Forces While Minimizing Supply Chain Costs

    Discusses how to design a distribution network that takes advantage of the respective strengths of different modes of transportation to meet combatant command needs while minimizing total supply chain costs.

    Nov 29, 2011

  • Commentary

    The Unmentionable Costs of Airline Security

    For most of the past decade, the U.S. has pursued policies with very little regard to the costs they impose on travelers or the net reduction in risk that they generate, writes K. Jack Riley.

    Sep 13, 2011