With the events in Las Vegas, the big (and big is an understatement) question is “what now” with hotel security. Hotel operators, government officials and security experts are all trying to crack a seemingly impossible nut.
Going full TSA
The knee jerk idea for hotels in densely populated cities especially ones that double as tourist attractions is to go full TSA. That means adding metal detectors and screeners but the feasibility and effectiveness of this is not realistic.
Putting aside the sheer resources required to operationalize and the bottleneck that would slow down life for everyone involved, there are too many security holes to list. The cost alone would be prohibitive. There are over 5 million hotel rooms in the US.Something else to consider are the number of offices and high rise buildings that look down on crowds every day all across the country. There’s just no way to have complete defense against someone with homicidal tendencies. And aside from all of that, travelers would balk, the economy would spiral (considering the total contribution of travel and tourism to US GDP in 2016 was 2.6% or $1.5 trillion according to the World Travel & Tourism Council).
Adding more cameras and resources to track suspicious behavior not only sounds logical but will be the immediate path that most hotels end up taking. It also makes for nice PR and leaves most people feeling good. But will it work? It’ll be helpful for evidence gathering after the fact but for prevention purposes, I’m skeptical. Although some would argue that something is better than nothing.
If not that, then what is the answer?
Changing behaviors and procedures
For one (and expect to see this implemented sooner versus later in hotels across the country) there will be a limit to how long someone can put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door.
I’m sure some hotels will require entrance into a hotel room at least once a day.
Don’t be surprised to see a sooner-than-expected rollout of biometric scanners in high profile hotels.
And don’t be surprised when privacy policies change to reflect the proactive sharing of your information to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in a proactive fashion. Today hotels collect a lot of information about you when you check in but don’t share that information without a warrant or to assist in an investigation. I can’t see a world where that does not change by some extent (the question is, by how much) moving forward. Lawyers will be involved. As will the ACLU. And for good reason (i.e. the Constitution). But travelers can vote with their wallets if they do not want to be part of the process. Traveling is a privilege, not a right. But in short, your privacy while traveling will be impacted moving forward.
In the future future
Technology will improve to the point where we have walk-through scanners that are frictionless, fast and effective. Dubai is working to implement something just like this at their International airport in the next few years. Expect similar, non-obstructionary technology solutions to follow around the world.
What did I miss? What around-the-corner or 2030 technology is going to make us safer while not restricting freedom? Please share in the comments below.
By: Ted Perlstein