Monday, June 20, 2011

A Security Observation

This past week, I had the opportunity to head north of the border to Canada and visited Niagara Falls and Toronto. It was a well deserved vacation and got to enjoy the weather and majestic scenery (as well as the great wines and icewines from Niagara on the Lake and the Finger Lakes of New York).

Going to both Toronto and Niagara Falls also gave me an opportunity to visit two of the tourist traps that everyone should visit precisely because they are the quintessential experiences for both locations. That means visiting the Maid of the Mist and the CN Tower.

There was no security to speak of for the Maid of the Mist - the fleet of sturdy boats that take hundreds of tourists to within a few hundred feet of the falling waters of the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls. It's an exhilarating experience to be on those boats, but one has more security going on the Staten Island Ferry or the PATH train.

Security at the CN Tower was a slightly different story. There, they had three of those air sensor scanners to check for explosives. It was quick, efficient, and their security guards had a sense of humor (well, sort of). After going through with my camera gear bag, the guard asked whether I had any firearms, grenades, bazookas, etc. I get the attempt at humor because of the boredom of asking the patrons to the CN Tower (the largest freestanding structure in North America). However, I didn't particularly think it was all that professional and being from NYC, I do take security a wee bit more seriously having seen my modes of transportation repeatedly targeted by al Qaeda for attack (PATH, subways, the WTC (twice), tunnels and bridges).

The experience at the CNN tower did suggest that it was possible to scan larger groups of people in a prompt manner and something along these lines could prove useful in securing Amtrak and speeding the screening at airports. After all, it took just seconds to do the air puffer. Even if you add in time to run a metal detector, it would be a vast improvement for all involved.

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