New airport security technology is aiming to overcome some of the concerns provoked by the controversial full body scanners now deployed at many hubs around the world, including 78 US airports.
In response to the American public reaction to these scanners – which provide an in-depth image of body shapes and, in particular, genitalia - the TSA has now introduced a different scanning technology that uses a template to represent the private parts of the passengers that pass through it.
This, essentially, gives the middle sections of all passengers the same profile, but the airport scanner reportedly performs as effectively as the older software, and highlights the presence of any suspicious-looking concealed objects by outlining them with red warning boxes.
New Airport Scanning Software
An example of this new airport scanning software was demonstrated to officials at the start of February 2011. “We believe it addresses the privacy issues that have been raised since the AIT [advanced imaging technology] equipment has been deployed since the fall of ‘07”, John Pistole – TSA representative – told those present.
“We have high hopes for it, but obviously we want to make sure that we are getting it right in terms of not only lab testing … but also operationally tested in these airports”, he added.
The new software is presently being used at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport on a trial basis, and further tests are scheduled to take place at Washington and Atlanta airports in the near future. Beyond these, the potential’s there to roll it out on a more widespread basis, if the results are positive.
Modest Airport Scanning Technology
According to the TSA, the modest airport scanning technology was developed through a collaborative venture between it, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and a number of private firms.
“Testing this new software will help us confirm test results that indicate it can provide the same high level of security as current advanced imaging technology units while further enhancing the privacy protections already in place”, Pistole added.
In September 2010, Airport International covered emerging reports that the original airport body scanners were to be upgraded with new programmes that replaced human images with cartoon versions. The TSA was said to be considering this plan and, around the same time, it was said that US airports would accommodate a total of 1,000 full body airport scan technologies by the end of this year.