Airport security tool launched by Government

May 15, 2023


The Government has announced a new national security capability to make restricted areas in airports safer from threat. The statement says:

The Access Pass Holder Information Distribution System (APHIDS) is a national capability which provides industry, the Civil Aviation Authority, law enforcement and the government with a secure system enabling the unique identification of all staff that have access to restricted areas at UK airports and fall within scope of legislation for enhanced background checks and repeat criminal records checks.

The Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) shaped and helped develop a proof of concept (PoC) for APHIDS – which is designed to minimise insider threats – through innovative collaboration across our supplier network. A joint project between the Home Office and Department for Transport, APHIDS is now rolled out across in-scope UK airports.

The new system, which is a central source of information on people who hold, or are applying for airside access passes, has been praised as extremely user friendly. This was achieved by extensive engagement at every part of the design and development process, putting users at the heart of every decision.

Making airports more secure
ACE was first approached to scope a system which could receive data from different systems across multiple airports back in 2018. This was designed to provide efficiency savings to industry and support law enforcement in tackling insider threats in aviation.

As a single and coherent national capability APHIDS now enables:

  • more stringent and efficient security checking
  • a consolidated national overview
  • compliance with new legislation requiring continuous criminal records checks
  • reduced risk of an insider threat
  • The journey to more secure airports

The team visited over 20 airports asking end users how they wanted to access data and developed the core of APHIDS that enables users to access information.

They demonstrated APHIDS can receive data from multiple systems and airports and share it with interested parties.

The initial objective was to develop a PoC to demonstrate how the latest data ingestion and analysis tools and techniques could be used with data from many different airports.

Collaborative and Agile working for success
This PoC, using rapid prototyping and open source integration and delivered at pace through 4-week agile sprints during 2019, proved that a single, centralised solution could manage this insider threat.

Adopting an Agile approach, ACE and the suppliers worked closely with the customer and stakeholders, including end and pilot users and all delivery and service partners, as the APHIDS PoC was first tested with the wider airport community and then moved into private beta in 2020.

Operating as one team avoided objectives being siloed and ensured the best solution was delivered and iterated. Clear outcomes and success criteria in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) were also created.

Developing into live service
Naimuri was selected as the Home Office Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) industry partner to continue development and delivery of APHIDS through to public beta, and APHIDS went into live service in 2022, successfully building on early work with ACE. Naimuri, which is part of QinetiQ, also secured a support contract for APHIDS.

Carl Roberts, Managing Director at Naimuri, said: “Our solution helps increase visibility of airside passholders and reduces the time and effort to access this information, improves ability to identify insider threats quickly and effectively and meets UK legislation on enhanced background checks.

“High adoption rates combined with positive feedback from industry and law enforcement users means the Department for Transport and the Home Office are now exploring the potential for APHIDS to be rolled out to other transport modes beyond aviation. This will further strengthen and protect the UK’s critical national infrastructure.”


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