CPTED Airport Security Term Paper 5 pages

Aviation Security

It is important to note that the aviation industry is critical to global trade and industry. It is therefore sad that this also happens to be one of the industries that have in the past suffered the brunt of terror and other security threats. There is need to embrace more effective and efficient security and surveillance measures in seeking to not only discourage crime but also reduce opportunities for the same to occur. This text concerns itself with crime prevention through environmental design in airports. In so doing, it will largely focus on whether or not the principles of CPTED have been considered in Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3.

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In basic terms, “crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) incorporates security into design using cost-effective methods that increase security plans and procedures while maintaining aesthetics” (Center for Transport Services, 2011). To be able to determine to what extent the principles of CPTED have been utilized in Dubai international airport terminal 3, it would be prudent to tour the terminal and review how effective the design as well as layout and features of the terminal are in increasing the fear, and reducing the incidence of crime. In so doing, I will largely focus on three of the four CPTED strategies as highlighted by the Center for Transport Services (2011): use of natural surveillance, use of territorial reinforcement, and use of natural access control. The other CPTED concepts I will be looking into are listed by Atlas (2007) to include: management and maintenance, and activity support and generators.

Use of Natural Surveillance

This is intended to ensure that intruders are under constant observation. It is important to note that people with ulterior motives would not want to be seen executing their plans. For this reason, they select areas where their activities are well concealed. In that regard, therefore, the design strategy in this case is for users to be able to clearly observe what is happening around them. The design of Dubai international airport terminal 3 takes natural surveillance into consideration. It incorporates both mechanical and natural approaches to organized surveillance. Essentially, mechanical approaches to organized surveillance could in this case include, but they are not limited to, guard and police patrols, surveillance cameras, and lighting (Atlas, 2007). Natural strategies, as the author further points out, include raised entrances and windows.

Most of the terminal is glass-walled. This enhances visibility within the building, making it almost impossible for criminals and other elements with ill intentions to disguise their activities. It is also important to note that the utilization of plenty of clear glass makes it possible for those in vantage points to observe the activities of those below. The escalators also comprise of more than 40% clear glass, with the installation of the said escalators designed in such a way that the people inside have an excellent view of most of those around and those below. The lighting is also done in such a way that the entire terminal is well lit up. The top floors make use of both natural and artificial lighting. There are also plenty of open view places, meaning that most locations within the terminal have a “hall like” feeling. This is yet another design aspect that further enhances visibility and increases the risk of detection and apprehension for criminal elements. Security cameras are also installed at strategic points. It should be noted that most of the security cameras seem to be deliberately installed in locations that lack natural sight lines — i.e. In places where the view of those working around is, for some reason, obstructed.

Use of Territorial Reinforcement

This has got to do with the creation of an operational sphere for security personnel, delineation of private vs. public space, as well as clear definition of property lines (Center for Transport Services, 2011). There are numerous shops housed within the complex which are manned by attendants. There are also areas clearly marked “Authorized Personnel Only.” Although some of the areas could be regarded semi-public, i.e. In the case of the duty free shops, the presence of attendants and clear signs ensure that only those whose undertakings (like shopping) are legitimate are allowed access. Some measures like these, as Atlas (2007) points out do “not automatically oust criminals but, but they can render them more ineffective.” For instance, with regard to areas clearly marked “Authorized Personnel Only,” those who gain access without being cleared can be easily identified and challenged. It is also important to note that from time to time; uniformed personnel can be seen walking around. This is to ensure that intruders are put on the defensive so that they do not partake in tasks that they are not allowed to partake or gain access to areas that are out of bounds for those who do not work at the airport. It is easy to see that territorial reinforcement is critical to the terminal and travelers’ security.

Use of Natural Access Control

This has got to do with the proper channeling of traffic and utilization of clearly market routes (Center for Transport Services, 2011). In the words of Atlas (2007), “access control is a design concept directed at reducing the opportunity and accessibility for crime.” In that regard, therefore, we could have mechanical (i.e. card key systems and lock) and organized (security personnel) approaches to crime control. Outside the Airport’s terminal 3, one can see clear walls and what appear to be spikes atop the said walls. This means that all those who would want to access the terminal have to make use of the designated pathways. Given that these pathways are constantly monitored and that the spiked walls could easily thwart any attempt to escape, this creates in the intruder with an ill motive the perception of risk. It is also clear that most of the hallways in the Airport’s terminal 3 are designed to channel visitors to specific areas, i.e. shopping places, lounges, or waiting areas. There is no single straight line access to such critical areas as security surveillance and control rooms. There are also various screens located in pathways that indicate to users exactly where they are at any given point in time. Essentially, criminal elements like being in control. The Airport’s terminal 3 is designed in such a way that this sense of control is taken away from the said criminal elements. In total, Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3 has 26 gates, 59 passenger loading bridges, 52 immigration counters, and 14 remote stands (Arabian Business, 2008). All these deny control access to the terminal and limit the chances that those who have ulterior motives will gain access to the terminal.

Management and Maintenance

Crime, according to Atlas (2007), is likely to occur in places that appear abandoned, dilapidated, and unkempt. These, as the author further points out are areas that scream: No One Cares! Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3 is well maintained, decent, clean and very well designed. The terminal’s aura, ambience, as well as look are synonymous with zero tolerance to crime and vandalism. According to Atlas (2007), “management and maintenance go hand in hand.” The fact that some attendants can be seen directing cars is a clear indication that the airport terminal is also well managed, and thus criminals would find it difficult to commit crime.

Activity Support Generators

This is one of the most important and prominently applied CPTED concepts in Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3. Activity support, in the words of Atlas (2007), “involves the appropriate use of building functional spaces such as recreational facilities and common areas.” In this case, the intention or goal is often to ensure that the relevant areas are filled with legitimate users, such that illegitimate users feel pressured to either leave or suspend the commission of criminal acts. Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3 is designed in such a way that elevated vantage points have the greatest human traffic. This is largely accomplished by locating self-serve stores and other viewing areas that attract people in such places. It is also important to note that the fact that the airport terminal is designated as a major security installation, and designed as such, is likely to attract legitimate users and repel illegitimate ones.


As a crime control and prevention strategy, CPTED is of great relevance. Based on this evaluation, it is clear that, at the very least, CPTED succeeds in creating a perception of safety in terminal 3. It is important to note that although the airport terminal scores highly when it comes to the utilization of CPTED concepts to enhance security and minimize opportunities for criminal behavior, there is still room for more to be done. This is particularly the case given that today, criminals are more cunning and sophisticated than was the case a few decades ago. The terminal could, for instance, prominently display CCTV monitors in public places. This would assure all those who make use of the facility that they are being watched. This, combined with the excellent utilization of the other concepts of natural surveillance, would truly deter criminals and keep this key installation even safer.


Arabian Business. (2008). T3 Revealed. Retrieved on 21st October 2014 from http://www.arabianbusiness.com/t3-revealed-82995.html

Atlas, R. (2007). Designing Against Terror, Violence and Crime. Retrieved on 20th October 2014 from http://cpted-security.com/atlas/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=39&Itemid=63

Center for Transport Services. (2011). Airport Security about More Than Preventing Terrorism. Retrieved on 20th October 2014 from http://www.airtap.umn.edu/publications/briefings/2011/spring.pdf

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