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Security

US focuses on checkpoint fluidity

30 January 2019
The TSA checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport. In its Apex Screening at Speed vision for the future, the DHS aims to avoid congestion and queuing during the security screening process. Source: Getty Images

The future lies in a blend of enhanced X-ray devices and automatic threat recognition software, says the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has developed several innovative technologies and techniques to accelerate passenger screening at US airports. Automated Screening Lanes (ASLs) and computed tomography (CT) technology are the latest security measures travellers are beginning to see at the checkpoint.

Meanwhile, the TSA and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) continue to examine mitigation technologies designed to stay ahead of the myriad terrorist threats. They are also conducting research and development (R&D) projects, which could further hasten throughput at TSA checkpoints while also improving security from the kerb to the boarding gate.

ASLs offer new capabilities, such as automated diversion of baggage that needs further inspection, automated tracking of trays linking to the X-ray and picture images, and automated bin return allowing officers to focus on security. Integrating CTs with ASLs will provide technological and screening process improvements at US airport checkpoints.

TSA has a dream

The airport checkpoint of the future will be fully capable of efficiently detecting threats to aviation security while minimising the inconvenience to passengers. DHS S&T envisages a future where passengers approach the checkpoint and place their carry-on items on a conveyer belt leading to an enhanced X-ray device with automatic threat recognition software.

Passengers walk through a screening portal without having to take off their shoes or coats or remove their laptops and liquids from their bags. If the screening portal identifies a potential threat on a passenger or with a carry-on item, a non-invasive, secondary inspection will take place.

The DHS S&T Apex Screening at Speed (Apex SaS) programme aims to modernise how the TSA processes passengers and scans carry-on bags. While this transformative R&D activity could ultimately develop screening procedures that span the entire airport, Apex SaS researchers focus on the security checkpoint.

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