Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 21, 2006

Canada’s transportation security action plan: a preview

Filed under: Aviation Security,International HLS — by Christian Beckner on April 21, 2006

At a counterterrorism conference in DC today, Margaret Purdy from Transport Canada gave a talk where she outlined a new strategic plan under development in the Canadian government, the Transportation Security Action Plan, intended to serve as a 5-7 year plan for transportation security in Canada. The Action Plan was previously mentioned several weeks ago in a speech in Ottawa, but the remarks today provided a great amount of detail about the plan.

Purdy identified seven horizontal challenges for transportation security that cut across all modes of transport, which I found to be relevant not just for Canada but on a broader basis:

  1. Information sharing: getting the information to the right people, at the right place, at the right
  2. Risk management: setting priorities, and deciding what to do first.
  3. Security integration: making it not an obstacle, but an enabler.
  4. Performance-based systems: they often create anxiety but are necessary in response to adaptive threats. Their use typically requires cultural and attitudinal shifts.
  5. Technology innovation: the need for new tools for transport security, and the associated challenges of cooperating on this innovation process.
  6. Dealing with attacks: enhancing the responsiveness and resilience of the system.
  7. Connecting with the general public: getting citizens to understand risks appropriately; informing them without scaring them.

I found myself nodding in agreement with this list during her presentation; this is the inclusive set of cross-sectional challenges facing transportation security not just in Canada, but across the entire system. Perhaps DHS should dust off the classified (and therefore irrelevant) National Strategy for Transportation Security that it delivered to Congress last year and work together with Canada to create a joint Action Plan.

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