This chapter sets out to inform the reader about the impact of pervasive computers in aviation passenger risk profiling. First is an overview of the perception of risk from a passenger perspective, including definitions and general descriptions of risk; and discussion on how perception can influence decisions, and thus behaviour. Then follows a section on profiling, its definition, how it can be done, where it is done, problems that have been encountered with its application, and recent developments in profiling including Australia’s growing involvement in its use. The issue of pervasive computers is interwoven throughout, to highlight its role in passenger profiling. The chapter then discusses the legislation that relates to aviation and concludes by noting that passenger perception of risk and use of profiling techniques is an important factor that needs to be addressed in the application of passenger profiling to risk management in the Australian aviation industry.
There are many varied forms of risk definitions used in the aviation industry. However, the most appropriate definition of risk for the purposes of this chapter is one that incorporates the possibility of loss, injury, disadvantage or destruction from exposure to hazard or danger; or to incur risk of danger (Beer & Ziolkowski, 1995). These potential losses, injuries, exposures and hazards can manifest themselves in many areas, for example economic, environment, and geo-political. Hunter (2002) described risk in terms of its perception within the public and noted that risk is the subjective assessment of the possibility of injury or loss of life in relation to encountering a hazard.
Similarly, risk can be defined as an outcome of two variables, namely a) the likelihood of injury; and b) the severity of the potential consequences (Lowrance, 1980; Slovic, Fischoff & Lichtenstein, 1979). Furthermore, Wogalter, Young, Brelsford, and Barlow (1999) propose that the likelihood or probability component is the most important component of the two, because people base their risk perception on the likelihood of being injured. Likewise, in an aviation context, the likelihood of probability of being injured in an accident can be a major contributing factor to decide whether to fly from a passengers’ point of view. If profiling passengers for increased security lowers the probability of risk, then it is a positive for the industry.