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Intelligence, airport security… and a board game


The Fall 2013 issue of the Journal of Strategic Security contains proceedings from the 2013 annual conference of the International Association for Intelligence Education. Among the papers included is one by Arnaud Palisson (Aéroports de Montréal) on the development of a simple cooperative boardgame used to highlight the importance of intelligence in airport security:

A Board Game to Teach the Rudiments of Intelligence in an Airport Context 

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) is the airport authority for both Greater Montreal international airports. Unlike other Canadian international airports, at both Montreal airports, security is not the prerogative of an airport police. It is the duty of a security department within the airport authority: the Airport Patrol (AP) is in charge of protecting passengers, operations, and facilities against all threats to civil aviation. To adequately fulfill its mission, the Airport Patrol largely relies on intelligence.

In the context of their initial training program at the Airport Patrol, future security officers and constables receive a three-hour long introductory lesson about intelligence. Students – who are not cognizant of intelligence purpose – often initially question the pertinence of such a lecture. Thus the Airport Patrol developed in 2012 an educational boardgame to teach students the rudiments of intelligence in an airport context. The purpose of this game was threefold: 1) to get students interested in intelligence, despite their initial skepticism, 2) to help them understand key concepts to be discussed during the following lecture period, and 3) to facilitate the future work of Airport Patrol investigators to recruit on-the-job officers for their intelligence network.

Considering adult learning theories, the design process strives to root the game into the students’ future work environment. This paper will focus on the reasons why a game-based learning approach has been selected, how the game has been designed, and what are the lessons from this experiment….

He concludes by suggesting:

This emergent game-based learning approach is actually not about teaching the rudiments of those topics to staff members. It is much more about making them understand the reasons why those topics matter and what they can do in their everyday work to better secure airport operations and protect our competitiveness. Teaching through games remains a tough challenge. Popularizing with games may be an easier tool to implement, but a powerful one: it is not so much about transmitting knowledge but changing mindsets and culture.

You’ll find the full article here.

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