DeteCT Security Blog

Aviation Security and the Interoperable Airport: Interview With David Wiley

Posted by Analogic Security on 5/10/18 8:59 AM
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For this DeteCT interview, we were very grateful to get the insights and perspectives of David Wiley, Stratovanscientist, inventor, entrepreneur, and aviation security visionary, David Wiley. David is president of Stratovan Corporation, a developer of software applications for the medical and security industries. David founded Stratovan in 2005 and spearheaded the company’s expansion into airport security. David earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis, and served as a post-doctoral researcher for three years at UC Davis. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals, conference proceedings and books and is the author of seven US-issued and other pending patents for new software technologies.

DeteCT
David, great to have you join us. Before you got involved in aviation security, you were an innovator in developing software tools for medical imaging the medical industry. Tell us a little bit about that experience and how it affected the work you are doing now.

DW
Thanks for having me. I was a post-doctoral researcher at UC Davis when I founded Stratovan. I realized there was an opportunity to help physicians, surgeons and patients by developing software platforms to improve outcomes of medical procedures. For example, total-knee replacement in orthopedic surgery. Current standard of care for this surgery is a highly manual process that relies heavily on the skill of an individual surgeon. We developed a fast and easy-to-use surgical planning software system to help surgeons make more accurate decisions about, for example, which prosthetic to use and where to place it in a patient for optimal alignment while minimizing bone removal and time spent in the operating room. Clinical studies showed our software dramatically improved surgical outcomes, which is something we are proud of.

DeteCT
Very impressive. How did you get involved in aviation security software? Did you apply your experience from medical software?

DW
Several years ago, I was invited to an ADSA (Advanced Development for Security Applications) workshop. I realized our expertise in 3D image analysis and workflow automation could also improve aviation security.   Since that time, Stratovan has been working with the US government and aviation technology vendors on projects such as the development of improved automated threat recognition (ATR) software for baggage screening systems and common data standards.

DeteCT
I can see the connection between image analysis software and ATR. Why is your expertise in workflow automation relevant for security?

DW
Workflow is about breaking a process down into its sub-steps and systematically improving and simplifying these. If you think about aviation security, the process doesn’t start when you put your carry-on bag on the conveyor. It starts way before that, perhaps when you buy your ticket, perhaps even when you start planning your trip. To make dramatic improvements in the aviation security we must think of the entire ecosystem of people and devices that apply software and other technologies for screening. Long lines for passengers result from inefficiencies in this device ecosystem.

DeteCT
Speaking of the big picture, “interoperability”, networking and “open architectures” are all buzzwords in aviation security right now, but Stratovan has been advocating a vision of the “interoperable airport” for a number of years now – well ahead of everyone else. Why is this so important to you?

DW
I’m passionate about it because it is the next obvious evolutional step of aviation security! Unfortunately, the aviation security technology industry today is in many ways where the computer hardware industry was in the 1980’s and early 1990s. Back then, each hardware manufacturer made their own proprietary subcomponents – their own graphics processing, their own RAM and CPUs even, and more. It was difficult and expensive to network different hardware systems together. This is just like today’s X-Ray systems, which have their own image processing software, file formats, and even hardware components.

DeteCT
So, the idea is that by following the example of the computer hardware industry, aviation security technology can improve as well?

DW
Exactly. If you look at the computer industry now, there is an ecosystem of thousands of third party hardware and software providers who individually make components that are far superior to that any individual vendor can provide. This allows you to design best-in-class solutions that fit your requirements. 

DeteCT
What does the aviation industry need to do to enable the creation of a comparable security ecosystem?

DW
TSA and other global regulators have to play a leading part in this. Today, if I want to develop a new app for an iPhone, I can download the Apple Software Development Kit (SDK). But if I have software to make airport security screening better, where do I start? How do I get my software into the airports? What is the pathway to integrate and participate to improve security? There is currently no “airport security” software development kit that enables the marketplace of the AppStore---that’s all that’s needed.   

DeteCT
It sounds like the aviation security community could be missing out on a lot of innovation and talent that we are not even aware of, because of these barriers.

DW
Absolutely. There are some incredibly smart, dedicated young people and companies out there who want to create better security technology. We have to ask ourselves, do we want that talent going to Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the game companies? Or should we build an inviting marketplace to give those individuals the tools they need to contribute innovations to airport security?

DeteCT
Well said! I think the answer is clear, but that is a challenge to all of us. On that note, thank you very much for your insights. I look forward to having you back soon and talking more about these critical issues.

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