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Optimal Allocation of Resources in Airport Security: Profiling vs. Screening


  • Aniruddha Bagchi

    () (Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144)

  • Jomon Aliyas Paul

    () (Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144)


This model examines the role of intelligence gathering and screening in providing airport security. We analyze this problem using a game between the government and a terrorist. By investing in intelligence gathering, the government can improve the precision of its information. In contrast, screening can be used to search a passenger and thereby deter terrorist attacks. We determine the optimal allocation of resources between these two strategies wherein we model the role of intelligence using the concept of supermodular precision. One striking result is that under certain circumstances, an increase in the investment in intelligence can induce a more devious terrorist to attack with a higher probability. We also find that when there is a cost-reducing innovation in the screening technology, then the optimal investment in intelligence gathering can go either way. However, such an innovation unambiguously improves social welfare. Another interesting implication is that a developed economy would value intelligence inputs more than a developing economy. We also examine the efficacy of a program such as PreCheck that allows some select passengers expedited screening in exchange for voluntarily revealing information about themselves. Our analysis shows that such a program can be used to cushion the adverse effect of budgetary shortages. Finally, we also examine the role of enhanced punishment on the optimal level of intelligence. We find that the result can go both ways. If the initial level of punishment is high, then any further enhancement reduces the optimal level of intelligence gathering. However, this result is reversed if the initial level of punishment is low.

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  • Aniruddha Bagchi & Jomon Aliyas Paul, 2014. "Optimal Allocation of Resources in Airport Security: Profiling vs. Screening," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 62(2), pages 219-233, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:62:y:2014:i:2:p:219-233

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huseyin Cavusoglu & Byungwan Koh & Srinivasan Raghunathan, 2010. "An Analysis of the Impact of Passenger Profiling for Transportation Security," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 58(5), pages 1287-1302, October.
    2. Geoffrey Heal & Howard Kunreuther, 2005. "IDS Models of Airline Security," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(2), pages 201-217, April.
    3. Nie, Xiaofeng & Batta, Rajan & Drury, Colin G. & Lin, Li, 2009. "Passenger grouping with risk levels in an airport security system," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 194(2), pages 574-584, April.
    4. Laura A. McLay & Adrian J. Lee & Sheldon H. Jacobson, 2010. "Risk-Based Policies for Airport Security Checkpoint Screening," Transportation Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(3), pages 333-349, August.
    5. Nicola Persico & Petra E. Todd, 2005. "Passenger Profiling, Imperfect Screening, and Airport Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 127-131, May.
    6. Lazar Babu, Vellara L. & Batta, Rajan & Lin, Li, 2006. "Passenger grouping under constant threat probability in an airport security system," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 168(2), pages 633-644, January.
    7. Atin Basuchoudhary & Laura Razzolini, 2006. "Hiding in plain sight – using signals to detect terrorists," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 245-255, July.
    8. Juan-José Ganuza & José S. Penalva, 2005. "On Information and Competition in Private Value Auctions," Working Papers 158, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    9. Vicki Bier & Naraphorn Haphuriwat, 2011. "Analytical method to identify the number of containers to inspect at U.S. ports to deter terrorist attacks," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 187(1), pages 137-158, July.
    10. Alexander G. Nikolaev & Sheldon H. Jacobson & Laura A. McLay, 2007. "A Sequential Stochastic Security System Design Problem for Aviation Security," Transportation Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(2), pages 182-194, May.
    11. Wang, Xiaofang & Zhuang, Jun, 2011. "Balancing congestion and security in the presence of strategic applicants with private information," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 212(1), pages 100-111, July.
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    13. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
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    15. Nie, Xiaofeng & Parab, Gautam & Batta, Rajan & Lin, Li, 2012. "Simulation-based Selectee Lane queueing design for passenger checkpoint screening," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 219(1), pages 146-155.
    16. Juan-JosÈ Ganuza & JosÈ S. Penalva, 2010. "Signal Orderings Based on Dispersion and the Supply of Private Information in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 1007-1030, May.
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