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Future of Public Safety

Bringing Innovation to Airport Security

Photo: Courtesy of Jon Tyson

The Transportation Security Administration is leading security innovation and advancing global aviation security standards every day. Given the continuing threats to aviation, the TSA is working with industry, airline and airport partners to develop the next generation of security technology and deploy it to our nation’s airports. Specifically, we are pursuing identity verification technology and improved threat detection at checkpoints. These new technologies will result in better security and a better passenger experience.

Biometrics and identity verification

The TSA continues to test and deploy biometrics and identity verification technology to improve security and strengthen the traveler identification process.

We have tested technology that allows a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as both a boarding pass and ID. In addition, we continue to explore facial recognition technology in coordination with Customs and Border Protection that will allow travelers to use their faces to confirm their identities at the checkpoint. Another area of biometrics innovation is the registered traveler program. CLEAR, currently the only registered traveler provider, allows members to use biometric technology for their identity verification before proceeding through the TSA security checkpoint.

We are also using credential authentication technology to confirm the authenticity of photo IDs and automatically match the information from the ID with our passenger vetting system. Passengers are likely to see greater use of this technology at TSA checkpoints in the coming months.

Threat detection

Our current X-ray machines provide TSA officers with 2-D images of carry-on bags, but we have been expanding our use of 3-D X-ray technology by introducing computed tomography (CT) scanners to checkpoints. With these CT scanners, officers can review 3-D images of bags and rotate an image 360 degrees to get a better view of a bag’s contents, which may reduce the number of physical bag searches. CT scanners substantially improve the TSA’s checkpoint threat detection capability while allowing passengers to move through security more quickly and keep electronics in their carry-on bags. In the future, these scanners should also eliminate the need to remove liquids from carry-on bags.

Partnership and passenger experience

We also continue to work with airport and airline partners to deploy screening lanes that allow several passengers to divest their personal items at the same time. The automated lanes enhance security and have the added benefit of improving passenger flow through checkpoints. We have over 140 of these lanes in airports across the country with more scheduled to open this year, all gifted to the TSA by our aviation partners.

We believe that security is a common objective that we can best achieve through shared efforts between government, industry and the public. There is a persistent threat to our transportation system, and we all have a role to play in protecting passengers and crew.

David Pekoske, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration, [email protected]

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