Over the last several years, security issues have become a major challenges for transportation systems. This is because, various locations are attractive targets for terrorism and other security related issues. For some cities, these issues are compounded based upon the number of services provided at specific points of interest. (Faddis, 2009) (Elliott, 2006)
In the case of Washington DC, the city is considered to be a place where tourists, dignitaries and government officials from around the world are coming to. This means that its transportation system will face a number of threats. Union Station is one location where this could take place. This is because it is within close proximity to the US capital and it is a central point for commuters. To fully understand how they are able to deal with these issues requires identifying potential risks, the duties of personnel and prevention strategies. Together, these elements will address the root causes of the problems. (Faddis, 2009) (Elliott, 2006)
Identify potential security risks of a mass transit hub.
The biggest potential threats for the mass transit system is the possibility of someone conducting a terrorist attack. This is because Union Station is considered to be a central transit hub. The fact that it is close to the White House and the US Capitol make this a target of opportunity. In these kinds of situations, terrorists could make a statement about their capacity to strike of the heart of the city. This will create fear / chaos and it will effectively shut down the entire region.
The basic idea, is to use Union Station as a high profile target which can meet these larger objectives. A good example of this can be seen three years ago. In this case, Union Station was target by terrorists because of these perceptions. Evidence of this can be seen in a news article by Next Star Broadcasting with it saying, that new terrorist videos obtained by the Pentagon heightened security at Union Station in Washington, D.C. In response, was heavy police presence at the station. This is illustrating how Union Station is considered to be a traget of opportunity. At the beginning of last years, al Qaeda reportedly discussed tampering with train tracks near bridges or valleys. In this case, officials believe that the plot was only in the initial planning stages and there is no information to suggest an imminent attack. As a result, the police have been advised to be on the lookout for spikes or clips that missing. While at the same time, they have to watch for packages left on or near the rails. (“Security Heightened at Union Station,” 2011) This is illustrating how the facility is facing constant threats from extremists groups. These actions can be focused on targeting infrastructure going into or within the facility itself.
In this case, the biggest security threats are directly associated with terrorism. This is because numerous groups, want to disrupt the activities of the transportation system nearby and inside the location. What makes it so attractive, is the fact that it is a major transit hub and within close proximity to different landmarks. To prevent this, the security protocol must address these challenges and the various approaches terrorists will use to attack the facility. (Cooper, 2011)
Identify mass transit hub key personnel and some of their duties associated with prevention, incident response and recovery.
Inside Union Station, there is a security detail. They have the responsibility for understanding, monitoring and preventing incidents before they happen. These objectives are achieved through active surveillance systems and the use of facial recognition technology. These tools allow them to cross reference someone, who could be on various watch lists or is the subject of alerts issued by the Department of Homeland Security. In this case, there will be a team who is designed to monitor what is happening and report any kind of suspicious activities to those who are on foot and bicycle patrols. They will approach the suspect and determine if they are engaged in any activities which is threatening to the facility. (Fernandes, 2011)
In the event the threat is considered to be severe; they have the power to shut down the location. Once they have isolated the individual, is when they will determine if specific sections should be reopened. This enables them to initiate recovery procedures for dealing with these kinds of challenges early. (Fernandes, 2011)
At the same time, the administration will have team leaders appointed. Their job is to make sure that everyone is following the proper procedures and maintains a state of vigilance. In the future, this enables personnel to understand their roles and adjust with them. They also help to enhance communication among the various stakeholders. When this takes place, they are more capable to dealing with these threats. (Fernandes, 2011)
Clearly, the biggest security challenges impacting Union Station are those related to terrorism. This is problematic, as various groups will target the facility to strike a blow to the economic and moral heart of the country. To deal with these issues, requires personnel embracing a constant state of vigilance.
This means they have to identify, respond and isolate threats early. Once this happens, is when they can determine if it will have an impact on stakeholders and the long term effects on everybody. In the future, this decreases their vulnerabilities because of the mindset embraced by personnel during the process.
- Security Heightened at Union Station. (2011). News Star Broadcasting. Retrieved from: http://www.rochesterhomepage.net/story/d/story/security-heightened-at-union-station-in- dc/18995/qCkfkU2vN0GstzUhhk_aWA
- Cooper, R. (2011). Union Station in Washington DC. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.
- Elliott, P. (2006). Washington DC. Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press.
- Faddis, C. (2009). Willful Neglect. New York, NY: Author House.
- Fernandes, D (2011). Targeted. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press.