Airports are of particular importance as national and international hubs for passenger and freight traffic. The disruption of such a node has not only local but also international effects. The secure and the trouble-free operation of airports is not only dependent on technical systems, but also on professional staff, the interaction between different actors at the airport and the human-machine interaction.
The main objective of the collaborative research project “Soft Parts – Social Factors of Airport Security” was a social scientific analysis of existing communication and cooperation patterns within airport security networks that gave special consideration to the different interests and rationalities of the involved actors (federal police, airports, security companies, etc.). Particular attention was paid to topics such as the acceptance of regulations, use of technologies, and job motivation- all against the backdrop of rapidly evolving judicial and technological changes. Furthermore, the training and education programs were crosschecked to ensure that they can adequately adapt to constantly increasing airport security requirements.
Qualitative and quantitative surveys of all stakeholders (for example officials of the Federal Police, employees of private security service providers, airport operators and air traffic controllers) are implemented. The focus is on factors such as the motivation of the employees, the acceptance and trust of the involved actors in technical security systems and the analysis of the training measures for the security staff.
The following results were achieved during the project: In addition to a large variety of qualitative and quantitative data on the social factors of airport security in Germany, there has been and will be an extensive distribution of the research findings in the form of presentations, informative materials, and publications for both a scientific and a practical audience. Throughout the research process, the use of participatory methods as well as the constant consultation of the partners with a practical background, led to a sensitizing of the involved security personnel. In identifying the parameters needed to improve not only collaboration but also the training and education of the security staff, a particular emphasis was placed on inter-organizational mindfulness. This, in turn, resulted in an immediate increase in network resilience.
Findings of the study are published in detail by several final reports of the project partners (German only) which are available online via the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB):
Disaster Research Unit (DRU) of the Freie Universität Berlin:
„Learning and Training in High-Reliability Organizations, Networks and Critical Infrastructures (Learning HRON)“
Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrt der Technischen Universität Berlin:
Institut für Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungssoziologie of the University of Potsdam:
"Network analysis - Social factors of airport security"