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Book Review: Are We Safe Enough?

Are We Safe Enough?  By Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller. Elsevier;; 268 pages; $99.95.

A brilliant look at aviation security through a unique prism of academia and statistics, Are We Safe Enough? provokes the reader to think about transportation security in a different light. By focusing purely on numbers, the authors remove emotion from the conversation and show what works and what doesn't.

From the opening chapter, the book forces the reader to abandon certain assumptions. Presenting facts and figures for the actual frequency of terror events and the associated costs of these events, the authors use raw data to break emotional attachments to the way things are done. They perform a fascinating statistical analysis that is used as a foundation for answering the book's ultimate purpose, which is how to develop a cost-effective and successful aviation security program.

The book is thoroughly researched, with plenty of footnotes, to take the reader layer by layer through the programs and practices used by both airlines and governments to protect commercial aviation. These layers are then peeled apart further and analyzed for effectiveness based on criteria like the incident frequency and cost of recovery. Wherever possible, real-world examples are presented. Charts and tables illustrate the numerical values being presented, which is a bonus for readers. Finally, each layer's cost is included in the discussion until the reader can see where costs for particular programs outweigh their benefits.

Each chapter includes a summary, conclusions, and references, making it easy to delve deeper into a topic. Although the book is geared towards aviation security professionals, there is valuable information about other industries. For example, the methods demonstrated for cost-benefit analysis can apply to other businesses. In fact, this process should be the standard for researching security procedures before deployment to determine if they will be successful or cost effective.

Overall, this book is well written, exceptionally researched, and guaranteed to make security professionals reevaluate the way we protect and the way we should protect civil aviation. Any fan of aviation or security will find something useful in its pages.

Reviewer: Yan Byalik, CPP, is the security administrator for the City of Newport News, Virginia. He is the assistant regional vice president for ASIS Region 5A in Southeast Virginia.