Eyes and gadgets to keep airport safe

SINGAPORE - Don't be alarmed if the cashier at Starbucks or a cleaner at Changi Airport appears to study you intently.

Along with ticketing agents, shopkeepers and baggage handlers at the airport, they have been trained to look out for suspicious or unusual behaviour.

Since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing more than two weeks ago, security at the airport has been ramped up.

"In the light of MH370... we have enhanced some of the (security) checks with stronger ground presence and we also have enhanced the checks on travellers' identities," said the commander of airport police division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sam Tee, during a media site visit at Terminal 2 yesterday.

One measure that might be familiar to travellers is the sight of policemen riding around the transit areas on wheeled electric stand-up vehicles.

Other security measures at the airport are less visible.

As you enter the airport, bollards and a cable catcher system attached to the glass facade offer protection against vehicles carrying explosives.

Once the baggage is checked in, it goes to the K-9 unit airport base where dogs are trained to detect explosives, drugs, large quantity of cigarettes and firearms at the baggage sorting area.

The bags can also undergo up to five levels of screening.

All bags arriving in Singapore and transferring to another aircraft for departure are first screened by an X-ray machine, with operators on hand to look for suspicious images, such as hidden explosives.

The airport is constantly under surveillance with the help of CCTV cameras. There are over 2,000 CCTV cameras on the premises that are also used to help conduct post-investigations.

Outside the airport, a 22km double-layered perimeter fence was built in July last year to "delay determined intruders". Certis Cisco officers also conduct patrols along the perimeter of the fence.

"The police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority are monitoring the security threat situation closely. We appreciate the understanding and patience of travellers as we conduct the various security checks to ensure safe and secure travel," said a statement.


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