UX of Airport Security Check

What UX disciplines are involved in design of security checks?

Interaction design: Developing clear and easy understandable sentences to be used in communication between security staff and passengers. Developing gestures for passengers not speaking any of the supported languages.

Ergonomics: Ensuring that the metal detector gate width and the transport belt height are suitable for most passengers. Developing a hand-held scanner that can be comfortably operated.

Theory of mass service: Calculating the total number of pipes, designing the barriers before them to parallelize incoming stream of passengers, designing the exit of security check area.

UI design: Designing staff clothes to be formal to provide feeling of authority (uniform-like look), but on the other hand not threatening to avoid negative feelings (no weapons, short sleeve shirts, biz-casual necktie). Adding elements of pilot uniform to mix-in some general flight excitement. Define fonts for signs to express both authority and hyper-modern look of the airports. Define the entrance and exit walls of the security check area to be made transparent to avoid negative feelings and suggest transparency and usualness of the procedure. Define the requirement that the staff on duty must be good-tempered, polite, and smiling.

Information Architecture: Ensuring that new or rarely flying passengers realize as soon as possible the airport processing workflow (Checkin -> Baggage drop -> Security check -> Gate -> Boarding), at least some time before they arrive to the next station so that they have time to prepare themselves to the procedure.

UX Implementation: ensuring the staff follows the defined UI design, ensuring that the security check zone corresponds to the UX design (no broken parts, clean, well lit and well conditioned). Regularly monitor the compliance.

Product Management: define performance metrics for security checks (perhaps number of passengers serviced per day per staff member), monitor the metrics, identify and eliminate issues.

What else could be involved?

Gamification: For example, print a slip with the security check duration. Passengers can then compete with the others on the same flight, or with the other passengers in the same airport. Slips with especially short security check times could be printed on a golden paper, and passengers could use them as collectibles. Providing some cash or merchandise bonuses for some number of collected points can be considered.

Creating a flow: develop several alternative workflows of the security check (this is anyways recommended by some FBI experts to increase the effectiveness of the check). Different workflows must have different duration, and at least some of them must be triggered by the passenger, eg. by the kind of an answer he gives on some question. Those passengers who are totally in the game must be able to figure out the current game rules and behave correspondingly to shorten the security check. The game rules must change in regular intervals.

Integration with social networks: when ordering the flight ticket, passengers may (but not required to) provide proof of owning an account on one of the social networks (of those kind that require real provable names to be used). Using this information, his security score can be calculated using some undisclosed formula (for example, including whether he has entered his hometown and job in the profile, and how many friends he has, etc). If his score is greater than some threshold, the time stated on his slip (not the actual time of security check) will be reduced by some known fixed amount.

Product management: Invent a method to earn money on this process. For example, build a store with an entrance in the unsecured zone and exit in the secured zone and sell Air Traveller Suits specially designed to be used during the flight:

  • 1/2 size larger than labeled, because human body tend to increase its volume on lower pressures
  • Fabrics fine-tuned for the standard humidity and temperature of the cabin, comfortable for skin, comfortable for long sitting, designed for sleeping…
  • …but still cool and trendy looking, perhaps in the style of the airline, and with the airline logo
  • With integrated headphones and integrated personalized RFID chip that can be automatically used everywhere instead of boarding cards, as well as for passenger navigation in the airport and during the boarding to show him his seat.

The suit can be pre-ordered in the Internet. Because passengers would change their clothes in the shop, their security check procedure could be simplified to going once through the metal detector.

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