Hilarious TSA Improvement Contest Entry!

As many of you probably know, the Transportation Security Administration is offering rewards totaling $15,000 for the best ideas that speed up the security screening process.

Via NBC News:

The Transportation Security Administration is offering rewards totaling up to $15,000 for the person with the best idea for speeding up security.

The TSA will award one prize of at least $5,000 and others of at least $2,500 for the top ideas. Plus, the winner gets the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made the airline experience for those of the masses a little less of a headache. The TSA is looking for “a scientific and simulation modeling approach to meet queue design and configuration needs of the dynamic security screening environment,” but it may not be as simple as you think. Contest participants must consider a variety of factors such as peak hours, flight schedules and TSA staffing schedules.

The deadline is August 15 and submissions are being accepted online now.

They can stop the contest now, I think we have the winning entry right here:

Brilliant! 😀

(Tip of the hat to Tocqueville)

Comments

  1. So they have a total of $15,000 to award for ideas, yet some idiots get rewarded far more for spending millions on sniffer/puffer scanners. Yep, that is TSA for you.

  2. Video is hilarious.

    On a more serious note, I work in aviation for a living. I have a Masters in applied math. The few contests I’ve come across like this I’ve never entered. Usually the rules preclude me from developing the solutions that *I* want to develop, such as limiting what data sets I can use. Or the rules/requirements are rather vague.

    In this case, the contest just drives me nuts, because there are only two factors that contribute to queue length and wait time. The first is service time (how fast you can screen passengers) and the second is how quickly passengers are arriving at the queue.

  3. TSA wait times are a symptom, not the problem. If you only attempt to address the symptoms, you’ll always still have the effects of the problem.

    In this case, it’s like someone who lives 50 miles away from work asking how they can speed up their commute. Yes, it’s possible you could get to work faster if you speed on the freeway, run red lights, or cut through gas stations on corners. But unless you change the fundamental cause of the problem, you won’t significantly cut down on your commute. It doesn’t matter if you offer a $15K prize or $15 million prize.

    Reducing TSA wait times is easy:

    1) Accept that security won’t ever be perfect, and that we can’t stop 100% of all terrorists. This is not an excuse to fail or stop trying, but it is a harsh reality.
    2) Screen for bad people, not bad things. This means most screening should occur long before anyone gets to the airport.
    3) Stop with security theater: shoes, liquids/gels, body scanners. Bags on x-ray. People through metal detector. Done.

  4. @Brian: “Screen for bad people, not bad things. This means most screening should occur long before anyone gets to the airport.”

    How exactly do you propose to do this without *at minimum* doing the sort of things that the NSA has been doing? I guess we’re lucky no Timothy McVeigh types have decided an airport is worth attacking.

  5. @Steven L: “How exactly do you propose to do this without *at minimum* doing the sort of things that the NSA has been doing?”

    TSA has to defend against 2 sorts of attackers:

    1) Organized terrorist cells planning an advanced attack. Intelligent and funded, these sorts of threats spend time planning, plotting, and communicating. We must depend on advanced intelligence to thwart these attacks, because by the time they get to the airport, it’s too late. TSA is great at making a show of defending against past threats (see: body scanners, liquids, shoes – all reactionary measures) and terrible at actually preventing them. The key point is that these threats will not be stopped at the airport, regardless of how much money we keep dumping into the TSA. Increased checkpoint technology/screening/delays are not the answer; intelligence is.

    2) The lone wolf/renegade/mentally deranged. Operating alone and without much of a plan, this sort of person cannot be predicted, but can be stopped with simple metal detectors and x-rays searching for guns and large knives.

    There’s no middle ground, and thus no need for anything more than x-rays and metal detectors at the checkpoint. Even ID checks aren’t necessary. The way to speed up checkpoints is not with a better line, it’s by removing the reason for the line in the first place.

  6. Whatever is suggested better not “lower” their budget cuz that won’t be acceptable… only ideas that can raise their budget will count…. lol

    Seriously, I believe in training, educating and hiring the right people for the job, then pre-screening will work very well. One of ex-manager was returning from the Carribean and the TSA told her to take off her sandals where as the guy in front of her was allowed to go through with his shoes… they called it “random” scanning!!!

  7. If the TSA wants the lines to move faster, stop putting random non-precheck people into the precheck lines – that just screws everyone… since when they have to move back to the ordinary line on their way home, they are even more confused…

    Ok, Where’s my check?

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