WASHINGTON – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin testing new software on its advanced imaging technology (AIT) machines that enhances privacy by eliminating passenger-specific images and instead auto-detects potential threat items and indicates their location on a generic outline of a person, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced today. TSA will test the new software at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) beginning today, February 1, and at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the coming days.
“We are always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections,” Pistole said. “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.”
The new software will automatically detect potential threat items and indicate their location on a generic outline of a person that will appear on a monitor attached to the AIT unit. As with the current version of AIT, the areas identified as containing potential threats will require additional screening. The generic outline will be identical for all passengers. If no potential threat items are detected, an “OK” will appear on the monitor with no outline.
By eliminating the passenger-specific image associated with the current version of AIT, a separate TSA officer will no longer be required to view the image in a remotely located viewing room. Through removing this step of the process, AIT screening will become more efficient, expanding the throughput capability of the technology.
TSA worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) and private industry to develop the software, and began testing it at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in the fall of 2010.
AIT safely screens passengers without physical contact for both metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons and explosives. Currently, there are nearly 500 imaging technology units at 78 airports nationwide, with additional units planned for deployment this year. The new software is being tested on millimeter wave AIT units currently in airports, with plans to test similar software on backscatter units in the future.