What makes a successful security culture?

Typically, security comprises different layers, whereat each layer has a certain probability of failure. By increasing the number of layers and their individual effectiveness, the likelihood of simultaneous errors decreases. Emerging and state-of-the art technology (i.e. biometrics, artificial intelligence) can also potentially contribute to an effective security. However, besides the technical possibilities and the efficiency of layers, the engagement of employees at all levels is a crucial key factor. If employees are involved and take over responsibility, the security outcome can be improved without increasing the budget. Only when security is perceived as a core value rather than an obligation, and employees’ positive security practices are promoted and rewarded, you have a solid foundation for a successful security culture.

Munich Airport’s Security Department takes this engagement seriously and goes innovative ways. From providing a positive work environment and training, to involving leadership, and introducing reporting systems, metrics and measures of effectiveness. Munich Airport (FMG) has a diversified approach to ensure that security is a shared responsibility.

Airport security at Munich Airport
Only when security is perceived as a core value rather than an obligation, you have a solid foundation for a successful security culture.   © Flughafen München GmbH
Security screening at Munich Airport
By using innovative CCTV technology like automatic 3D real-time tracking, Munich Airport can quickly overview the situation. © Flughafen München GmbH

Challenges in terms of (airport) security

In general, Munich Airport is facing the same challenges as most other airports. For example, external interventions, legal changes or new and unknown hidden opportunities for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in non-metallic and/or liquid forms. Fast spreading fake news is increasing as well as counterfeit news; the so-called deep-fake news. This can substantially affect passengers’ perception of “feeling safe”. Furthermore, technology is getting out-of-date very quickly and new products and emerging technologies promise a higher security factor. At the same time, threat actors have access to those newly developed technologies too and can use them to their advantage. Constantly implementing updates, shortening the overall innovation cycles while maintaining a high security level is becoming more and more important.

Measures to increase security standard

By using innovative CCTV technology like automatic 3D real-time tracking, FMG can quickly overview the situation in case of a passenger returning to the security area after already leaving it. Thanks to modern explosive trace detector (ETD-) equipment, the tiniest trace of explosives can be revealed. In addition, Munich is currently examining the use of perimeter protection or electronic access control.

While using all this technology, it is mostly the human factor that determines the robustness of a security system.

Effective security culture

Munich Airport provides a wide range of training programs to ensure, that not only the security staff but also all other employees are highly qualified and aware of possible threats. Besides web-based security trainings and/or individual security workshops, employees are also provided with security information like pocket cards and flyers with important do’s and don’ts. These measures successfully increased the staff security culture. As a result, employees are showing a more proactive behavior like reporting of misconduct or suspicious activities.

In terms of a sustainable security culture, FMG conducts security awareness campaigns on a regular basis. This year numerous short security-related video clips stressing main aspects in unwanted behaviors were published and promoted internally. For example, one of the nine clips informs about wearing the airport ID card visibly during the stay in the security restricted area. Another video focuses on the correct behavior at construction sites and the use of personal protective equipment.

These messages are continuously communicated via different media channels like the corporate intranet, events & meetings as well as displays in common rooms to inform all staff members. To maintain this high level of awareness, the implementation of an App is also planned for later this year. The application will provide employees with all key information on security topics such as guidelines, do’s and don’ts, relevant contact details and current security incidents.

Security training at Munich Airport
Munich Airport provides a wide range of training programs to ensure, that not only the security staff but also all other employees are highly qualified and aware of possible threats.  © Flughafen München GmbH
Airport security staff at Munich Airport
Best practices and high quality training compliance procedures help establishing and maintaining a good security culture. © Flughafen München GmbH

Strengths of Munich Airport’s positive security culture

Best practices and high quality training compliance procedures help establishing and maintaining a good security culture.

The security authorities at Munich Airport are cooperating very closely regarding different security issues. During regular exchange meetings, they discuss the latest security matters and develop overall solutions. Beyond that, security and vulnerability assessments are a major part of the ongoing quality management. FMG “observes, tests, measures and consults” their security staff frequently to avoid individual or systemic mistakes.

However, the greatest power of Munich Airport’s security is the combination of technology and the human factor. They do not only rely on technology – they also rely on 35,000 employees.