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New Airport Security technology breakthroughs combatting increasingly complex threat environment

Commercial aviation plays a central role in our daily lives and is an essential part of the national economy. More than 100,000 flights take off and land every day across the world. More than billion passengers go by air every year as do over  20 million  tonnes of freight. It will occupy an even more important place in the future as tourism continues to grow, world production moves to higher value added output and economic activities become widely integrated worldwide.


Commercial aviation has  also been an alluring target for terrorists for decades now. On the morning of 22 March 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings occurred in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels killing at least 30 people and wounding 230 others. The perpetrators belonged to a terrorist cell which had been involved in the November 2015 Paris attacks.  Local mayor Francis Vermeiren confirmed the ISIS suspects checked in their explosives-packed suitcases just seconds before the atrocities. He said: ‘They came in a taxi with their suitcases, their bombs were in their bags. ‘They put their suitcases on trolleys, the first two bombs exploded. The third also put his on a trolley but he must have panicked, it didn’t explode.’


In Dec 2020, At least 22 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in an attack at the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, officials say. There was at least one explosion shortly after a plane carrying the war-torn country’s newly formed government arrived from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Aid workers and officials were among the casualties. But the prime minister said he and his cabinet were “fine”. The information minister accused Houthi rebels of a “cowardly terrorist act”.


Terrorists have been using innovative new technologies and tactics like smuggling modular explosive devices onto planes, camouflaging explosives in everyday items and hiding them inside suicide operatives’ bodies, and carrying 9/11-style attacks. In 2006, there was a major plot to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights using explosives concealed in drinks bottles. Further attempts included a bomb hidden in a terrorist’s underwear in 2009, and the printer cartridge bomb in 2010. Even airport terminals and associated facilities such as car parks have come under terrorist attacks. As threat  is evolving continuously the security measures also must adapt continuously to reduce the risks.
“Passenger numbers are expected to double in 20 years, putting airport security facilities under immense pressure,” said Ken Wood, Sales and Marketing Director of Sequestim Ltd, a joint venture between Cardiff University and QMC Instruments Ltd.

 Airport Security

Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of research organization RAND Corp on an interview to Aaron Hutchins suggested  several reasons: Operations: “These are assemblies of people, crowds in confined environments and easy to access. It makes them an ideal killing field. For those who are concerned about carrying out bombings, the fact that people arrive with large suitcases enables someone to walk in with a large bag carrying an explosive device and it attracts no suspicion.”


Prestige and attention: “All other things being equal, such as number of casualties, terrorist events at airports get more national and international attention than terrorist attacks at other venues—unless they are [dramatic] like the truck plowing into people in Nice. ”Scare away tourists, ruin country’s economy: “Tourism in Turkey has plummeted. For countries where tourism represents a significant contribution to the GDP, like Egypt or Tunisia, airplane and hotel attacks can devastate the economy. It’s pretty effective in terms of economic warfare.


Psychological effects: “It touches a nerve with people’s psychological reactions more than other [attacks] … People are talking about the need to protect airports—not just airplanes—and create security perimeters at the front doors of the airport, not at the corridors of the doors leading to the planes. We’ll move to a situation where people see armed guards and automatic weapons. On one hand, that may be reassuring, but on the other hand it’s a reminder that nothing is safe.”


Airport security that refers to the techniques and methods used in protecting passengers, staff and aircraft from accidental/malicious harm, crime and other threats, is also evolving to meet the growing threats. The cost of security is also prohibitive.  “The underwear bomber’s device failed. His total investment was probably $5,000. And yet, in response, the United States spent close to a billion dollars deploying full-body scanners.” “One attack on one airport in the United States obliges the authorities to increase security at 450 commercial airports. In other words, it’s not the magnitude [of the attack] that drives the diversion of resources to security, but rather the volume and magnitude of targets to be protected,”


The high concentration of people on large airliners can result in high death rate with attacks on aircraft. This sheer number of passengers that must be screened and number of aircraft that must be secured also makes security a very difficult task. James Somerville-Smith, EMEA Channel Marketing Leader at Honeywell Security & Fire, agrees that the primary challenge for security professionals with regards to today’s rapidly expanding airports is the level of congestion: “Airports are some of the world’s busiest spaces, which can be difficult to monitor effectively.”


Another hurdle for those securing airports, reckons Somerville-Smith, is that most never stop their operations: “Their security systems must perform day or night throughout the year. Continuing to operate without interruption is essential to providing a good service to airlines and passengers, even in the event of an unexpected power failure. The answer is installing integrated security systems, with automatic fail-over to back-up systems.




Impact of COVID-19

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020 showing that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell by 65.9% compared to the full year of 2019, by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history. Experts  also expect a more gradual recovery to pre-COVID-19 traffic levels by 2024. “ 2020 year was a catastrophe. There is no other way to describe it. What recovery there was over the Northern hemisphere summer season stalled in autumn and the situation turned dramatically worse over the year-end holiday season, as more severe travel restrictions were imposed in the face of new outbreaks and new strains of COVID-19.” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.


COVID-19 also had its own impact on Airport Security need to rapidly screen the passengers for such biological hazards, maintaining social distancing among passengers and also altering security procedures and technology requirements. TSA has been installing acrylic barriers in major airports around the country — designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between travelers and TSA agents.


There was thrust of self service security procedures and technologies. When travelers first enter the TSA area, they are required to scan their own boarding passes at security checkpoints instead of handing them over to TSA employees to examine. The TSA has also begun testing self-service facial recognition technology to verify passenger identity at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Passengers scan their own IDs and the machine verifies their identity and flight information.


Temperature testing is helping airport authorities to prevent spread of disease.  Thanks to the highly efficient R&D efforts by the industry, the temperature checks could be implemented via a touchless, standalone thermometer or by an add-on module integrated into existing scanners, like metal detector portals, full body scanners, or even access control gates. With the adaptability of the technology, fever screening is now capable of safeguarding the airport almost anytime anywhere, whether it be at the entrance of terminals, security checkpoints, or boarding gates to your flights, providing multi-layered protection for passengers and staff alike.


We are already seeing a call for more contactless technology at airports, and I expect security checkpoints will have to be redesigned to avoid crowding and limit or reduce the need for pat-down searches. As a result, advanced screening technologies which ensure a minimum need for a secondary search, like stand-off Terahertz screening systems, automated tray return systems and remote screening could be on the rise, said Professor Zhiqiang Chen, chairman, president and CEO of NUCTECH.


Airport Security Technologies

Security measures begin long before you arrive at the airport. TSA works closely with the intelligence and law enforcement communities to share information. Additional security measures are in place from the time you get to the airport until you get to your destination.


The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted its first resolution to address the growing terrorist threats to the civil aviation community. The resolution, known as 2309 (2016), has asked all nations to improve screening and use new technologies to identify explosives and other threats in airports. It also called on the countries to share information about possible threats and enhance international and regional cooperation to counter extremist threats.


UN Counter-Terrorism Office has been  implementing the support of terrorism victims, the prevention of violent extremism and the efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, including arms deliveries, and also counter-terror sports. The system of tracking terrorists’ movements has been introduced at the airports of 13 countries and will soon come into operation in 20 more states, UN Under-Secretary-General, Head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov told TASS. He cited example, “The program of countering foreign militants – terrorists by way of strengthening air security,” which envisages getting preliminary information about passengers.


In a 2004 study, RAND presented near-term options for improving security at Los Angeles International Airport based upon one fact that consistently emerged from the analysis: it is not the size of the bomb that matters most; it is where it is detonated. All of the most dangerous terrorist attacks involve placement of a bomb in close proximity to a vulnerable crowd of people. The authors proposed two valid ways to reduce this vulnerability: Move the possible bomb detonation away from the people or move the people away from the possible bomb detonation. The study also identified an easy way to make people a less attractive target – improve ticketing and security operations so that crowds of people aren’t waiting in line, as reported by Henry H. Willis and Michael A. Brown.


RAND  authors also gave example of two emerging technologies – smart vehicles and smart infrastructure –  that may offer innovative solutions to introduce some useful unpredictability that would improve security by moving high volumes of people and traffic out of line. Smart infrastructure can detect when congestion is occurring. Connected vehicles can use this information to help reroute traffic around congested areas or streamline the flow through congestion.


Air Port Screening

Passenger screening at the airport is part of TSA’s layered approach to security to get you safely to your destination. TSA’s screening procedures are intended to prevent prohibited items and other threats to transportation security from entering the sterile area of the airport and are developed in response to information on threats to transportation security.


Biometric Security

Biometric technologies are also being tested that allows us to verify a person is who they say they are by using their own unique set of identifiers – fingerprints, iris scans or a combination of the two.


Homeland Security agencies implementing  are facial recognition technology that compares photos of airline passengers on international departing flights against a temporary cloud-based database populated with previously captured photos of passengers. The data from a CBP-owned camera near an agent’s podium takes a picture that is transmitted to TVS, converted into a template and matched against the preassembled passenger photos taken from other documents stored on other databases. The results are sent to the TSA agent’s tablet computer through a dashboard app. Airports and airline partners where the system is being tested have said the system can shave 15 minutes off of traditional manual methods of comparing passenger ID photos against larger databases.


A locally-developed Smart Security Investigator (SSI) system was unveiled by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to detect potential smugglers or travelers infected with epidemic diseases at Qatar’s entry points. “The new system could identify suspicious travelers and speed up the clearance process, without unnecessary delays due to security related searches,” said Captain Ali Hassan al-Rashid, from the Internal Security Force (ISF). “The new system depends on detecting the changes in the size of the retina of the eye and thermal changes of the person who stands before the sensor of the system for a few seconds,” “There are readings for normal persons and other indicators for persons with criminal conduct, which normally shows up in certain biological changes in the size of their retina or the temperature of their bodies. Such changes could be considerably different from those that display normal unrest, sickness or perplexity,” Captain al-Rashid stated.


Scientists are also working on monitoring physiological measurements such as breathing rates, heartbeats, perspiration and blink rates that may help spot and uncover terrorists. The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly using a program called Quiet Skies to take notes on targeted travelers’ behaviors, according to multiple reports. The program will use an algorithm to analyze passenger travel patterns. It will then highlight to air marshals if they should observe the passenger more closely. TSA’s internal documents revealed that air marshals should observe behaviors such as excessive fidgeting, excessive sweating, cold penetrating stare, wide open, staring eyes, face touching, how much they sleep during a flight and using a smartphone.


Explosive Screening Technologies

New screening technology and new approaches to find concealed explosives are required.  New techniques are required which will not only offer better detection, but will also help speed passenger throughput and reduce industry costs. They should also cause minimum inconvenience to the passengers in terms of shortening waiting times and allowing for faster processing through the checkpoint, whilst maintaining the highest levels of security.  “What’s clear is that as terrorists continue to innovate, our protective measures have to stay on their coat tails, and where possible get ahead.”


In the near term, checkpoint screening through machine learning algorithms is going to get better as it’s trained to detect guns, knives and other weapons. Body scans are progressing toward becoming walk-through rather than stop-and-scan.

Full-body scanners

Body scanners are now a key element of the security equation at airports and other safety-critical locations. Travelers are screened by metal detectors to detect either weapons or items that could be used as weapons on board aircraft so that they could hijack the plane. There are two types of these scanners currently in use: backscatter scanners that use X-rays and ‘millimetre wave’ machines that use non-ionising radio waves to produce a three-dimensional image.


Backscatter X-rays devices use Compton scattering to detect hidden weapons and explosives on passengers. They, require that the passenger stand close to a flat panel and produce a high resolution image but they depict the passengers in a state of undress that some find embarrassing. Millimeter wave machines running privacy software, generates a cartoon-line body image that identifies the location of a potentially suspicious element, instead of an all-too-revealing picture.


Explosive detection machines used include X-ray machines and explosives trace-detection portal machines. Explosive detection machines can also be used for both carry on and checked baggage. These detect volatile compounds given off from explosives using gas chromatography.


Airport X-ray systems detect suspicious items in about 5% of the luggage they examine. When they do, security personnel must inspect the contents by hand. Researchers have suggested that a sophisticated imaging technology called energy-dispersive X-ray diffraction (EDXRD) could replace those time-consuming inspections. But current EDXRD, as it’s known, has a serious limitation: It can detect objects only in small, thin areas.


Now, researchers at two Chinese universities have developed and tested an EDXRD system that, they say, overcomes that limitation (AIP Adv., doi: 10.1063/1.5126051). Conventional X-ray detection systems fail to differentiate suspicious objects, says Baozhong Mu of Shanghai’s Tongji University, “because the effective atomic numbers and densities of explosives, drugs, and key raw materials are similar to those of usual organic matter.” EDXRD technology overcomes that problem by using X-rays of various wavelengths and a detector with specific geometry.


The result, Mu and colleagues from Zhejiang University City College in Hangzhou write in the new study: “In an EDXRD spectrum, the combination of all the peak positions and intensities provides a unique spectroscopic ‘fingerprint,’ from which the material can be identified.”


The technology itself isn’t new. Teams at University College, London and GE Security are developing their own versions of EDXRD, called DILAX and XDI. But these are extremely expensive or limited to examining luggage much thinner than typical suitcases. Mu’s team has increased the technology’s detection capacity by placing five relatively cheap detectors in a spiral array. The approach successfully identified illicit pills mixed with legal powders and covered by clothes in a 4-inch thick bag, the team reports.


The ultimate goal is to enable airport security to use conventional X-ray imaging for preliminary screening and EDXRD to make accurate judgments about suspicious items without needing to open and inspect luggage by hand.


CT Scanning

Another possible solutions for the next generation of airport security screening is computed tomography (CT) scanning – a similar technology to what is used for scans in hospitals.  CT technology generates 3D, volumetric x-ray images. In the context of airport security, CT scanners enable security operators to inspect baggage from every angle. Automatic explosives detection algorithms and automated object recognition software, which can detect prohibited items such as weapons, support operators in making fast and accurate decisions. This not only boosts operational efficiency, but also the security outcome.


The concept: shoot 3D images of ever passenger item, the same way a CT scan swirls around the body to offer detailed imaging. By sampling each passenger item in 360°, security forces are able to better assess any potential threats, or hidden layers. “The conventional equipment simply doesn’t collect as much data as CT equipment. So a spinning source in a relatively similar amount of time will collect much more data about what it’s looking at compared to a conventional X-ray, which may have just one, two or three cameras that are taking a photo. So when you have more data about what it is you’re looking at, in this case bags, you’re simply able to do more things with that data in the same amount of time.”


The growing adoption of this technology around the globe is great news for passengers, with CT scanners eliminating the need to take liquids and electronic devices out of luggage, drastically cutting queuing times and creating a more frictionless experience at the checkpoint. In the US for example, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is working to implement CT technology, and recently Miami International Airport unveiled seven Smiths Detection CTiX scanners installed at TSA checkpoints, allowing passengers to keep laptops and electronic devices in their carry-on bags to minimise touch points during the screening process.


Passive Millimeter wave and Terahertz technology to speed up airport security

TSA uses millimeter wave advanced imaging technology and walk-through metal detectors to screen passengers. Millimeter wave advanced imaging technology safely screens passengers without physical contact for metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons and explosives, which may be concealed under clothing.


In active scanners, the millimeter wave is transmitted from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body. The wave energy reflected back from the body or other objects on the body is used to construct a three-dimensional image, which is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis. Millimeter wavelength radiation is a subset of the microwave radio frequency spectrum. Even at its high-energy end, it is still more than 3 orders of magnitude lower in energy than its nearest radiotoxic neighbour (ultraviolet) in the electromagnetic spectrum. As such, millimeter wave radiation is non-ionizing and incapable of causing cancers by radiolytic DNA bond cleavage.


A team of engineers at the University of Delaware has built and demonstrated a real-time mobile video camera that sees the environment through radio frequency (RF) waves as opposed to optical or infrared (IR) waves. In early demonstrations, the device has shown that using high-frequency waves enables it to ‘see’ through non-metallic objects and detect concealed objects. In December 2018, the university announced the team received USD1.5 million in funding from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to reduce the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of the device in preparation for a live trial in May.


That means Prather and the team can make a system that more closely resembles a flat-panel television (TV) set. “It will still be big in area because that is proportional to the wave length. You really can’t compromise that,” he added. “You can now imagine having an imager that is a RF video camera hanging on the walls much like a flat panel TV. That is the breakthrough we have been able to develop,” he said. Prather noted the team from the University of Delaware may be the only group in the world that has ever built a video camera that works in those frequencies from a phased array antenna system.


With the rising level of violence and terrorism all over the world another technology which has gained interest  for security screening systems, similar to those used in the airports, is based on terahertz (THz) imaging technology. The Terahertz body scanner can pefrom stand-off detection of weapons, including cold steel and fire arms, bombs and grenades, explosive belts and various contraband items hidden under clothes.


A super-sensitive passenger scanner that reveals hidden security threats is being trialled at Cardiff Airport in the UK. The walk-through scanner, which uses space technology to image human body heat, is the result of a collaboration between Sequestim Ltd. and Cardiff University scientists. “Our scanner combines a number of world-leading technologies developed by our team here in the UK. It uses the human body as a source of “light”, in contrast with existing scanners which process reflected and scattered millimetre-waves while the passenger is required to strike a pose.” “Our system only needs a few seconds to do its work. Passengers walking normally through security would no longer need to take off coats and jackets, or remove personal items such as phones. Originally built to study the furthest reaches of the universe, the technology used is so sensitive it could see a 100W light bulb at a distance of 500,000 miles (twice the distance to the Moon.)


The scanner quickly “learns” the difference between items that can and cannot be taken onto an aircraft, reducing the risk of false alarms which inconvenience passengers and slow down screening. “The detector technology was originally developed to study the most distant astronomical phenomena. For example, we study how stars are born from gigantic clouds of gas and dust,” explained Mr Wood. “It detects millimetre-waves, which are just like visible light but at a wavelength more than one thousand times longer. The ability of the scanner to reveal hidden objects has also attracted interest from Border Force, responsible for the UK’s frontline border control operations at air, sea and rail ports.


Any concealed items show up very clearly as a shadow because the human body, by dint of its heat, acts like a light bulb for our scanner. The new scanner images do not present any ethical issues because anatomical details do not show up. No-one will need to see the images when the technology is eventually used for real, however, because the system will be completely automatic. The airport trial aims to prove that passive terahertz imaging is robust, versatile, fast and convenient.

Real-Time, Hand-Held Scanner to Revolutionize Airport Security

A real-time, hand-held chemical scanner with stand-off detection capabilities has been unveiled by a team of researchers and engineers from nine European countries. The device can scan from a distance of up to 100 feet (30 m) and is capable of instantaneous, real-time, unambiguous detection. With real-time scanning delivering a realistic detection rate of one every few seconds, and therefore a rate of 1,200 per hour, the new device can deliver over 6 times more capability than state-of-the-art trace portal scanners that detect bombs and illegal drugs at a rate of 180 of passengers per hour.


“We are making the next generation of sensors that are compact, low cost and low on power consumption and capable real-time detection where the speed and sensibility is unrivaled,” said MIRPHAB coordinator Sergio Nicoletti, from CEA-Leti, France. “Spectroscopic sensing in the Mid-IR wavelength band (3 to 12 μm) is a powerful analytical tool to address societal challenges like climate change or monitoring emission controls,” said Jose Pozo, Director of Technology and Innovation at the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC).


“In this wavelength band, the so-called ‘fingerprint region,’ chemicals exhibit intense adsorption features allowing superior detection capabilities and unambiguous identification.” The device could be installed on the front of airports, scanning crowds for suspicious material, like explosives or illegal drugs, before they even enter the building.


Explosive scanner from the Loughborough University

Professor Tyrer, from the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, have developed an automated real time technique that can identify tiny amounts of explosive particles invisible to the naked eye. Using complex laser technology, it can remotely scan vehicles, cargo and crowded areas, such as airports, train stations and sports stadiums, automatically alerting an operator if it detects traces of explosives and accurately pinpointing its location.


The system is non-invasive, works in real time and causes no delays to the public or businesses. It is fully automated, ruling out human error, and the images produced are no more controversial than those generated by CCTV. “When you handle an explosive, the chemicals and various constituent components present, leave traces on your fingers and clothes, and are transmitted to anything you touch. Using some of the laser technology that we have invented here at Loughborough over the past few years, we have been able to create a device that can see the explosives and reject all other materials.”


“Sadly it seems inevitable now that we are going to see more and more terrorist attacks like those we recently witnessed in Brussels,” says Professor Tyrer. “And had our device been in operation at Brussels Airport I firmly believe those terrorists would have been identified and prevented from entering the terminal


ExDtect will soon be used to scan cargo for an international courier, and discussions are taking place with several other international organisations which are also keen to use the technology.



A large number of airports utilize stringent screening and access management technology but do not take adequate measures to separate the public area from the Air Operations Area (AOA), making it easier for terrorists and unauthorized personnel to access a parked aircraft. Airport security market vendors offer technologies such as light and motion sensors, surveillance and thermal cameras, and video analytics systems that can enable airport authorities to enforce security protocols and deter outsiders from hijacking airplanes and stealing cargo.


Ultrafast liquid explosive scanner to accelerate Airport Security checks

The Laser Detect Systems Ltd. (LDS), an Israeli electro-optics company has launched a breakthrough in explosive detection systems. This system is able to accurately and reliably detect a wide range of explosives and other hazardous compounds in liquid, gel or powder form. It can also detect the materials sealed in plastic or glass as well as materials mixed or diluted with other substances in a bid to escape detection. It can also detect traces and residues of explosives on already inspected systems. The company sources say that the system offers high sensitivity, low false alarm rate and high throughput, performing a typical inspection in only 3 to 5 seconds.


The laser scanner employs advanced laser gated Raman spectroscopy scanning methods and has been built in cooperation with Israel’s security forces. According to company sources, the system has successfully undergone exhaustive testing by explosion detection experts, led by Israel’s internal security agency.


Cyril Dujardin is CEO of Morpho Detection, a leading supplier of explosives, narcotics and chemical detection systems. “We have developed technology around X-ray Diffraction that will allow airports to screen liquids in the bags at checkpoints without the need to take them out.” The future development could see it also being used to detect solid explosives if and when airports are required to screen solid explosives automatically at the checkpoint.


Transportation Security Administration missed a whopping 95% of guns and bombs in recent airport security “red team” tests. “However according to experts” We don’t need perfect airport security. We just need security that’s good enough to dissuade someone from building a plot around evading it”. There are also technology failures; the current screening technologies are terrible at detecting the plastic explosive PETN

“For me the ideal experience is no security,” said Dujardin. “Or, at least the feeling that there is no security – that everything is as much as possible automated and seamless for the passenger.”


MRI for luggage

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, have developed a system called MagRay, combining X-rays and nuclear magnetic resonance technology, based on the MRI scanning. “We combine the two methods to discriminate benign from threat liquids,” says Michelle Espy, a physicist at Los Alamos and MagRay’s project leader.


Video Surveillance

High-performance video surveillance  is a key component of a comprehensive airport security system. The video content is analysed to find dangerous items, irregular activities and garner intelligence on passengers. Video Cameras are complemented with thermal cameras to reduce false alarms.


A next important step is perimeter security that utilizes license-plate readers upon entering an airport or transportation hub, or when you enter a parking garage. Perimeter intrusion detection systems (PIDS) are multi-faceted systems that can employ radar, video motion detection, infrared cameras, and fence sensors, among other things. The perimeter part of the layered defense includes hundreds or even thousands of cameras needed for effective airport surveillance with facial recognition software to monitor known terrorists and suspicious activities. It includes a whole range of smart functions to analyse video footage in real time or offline, including analytics for video tracking.


Big data technologies Integrated with cloud computing resources can be used to  detect anomalies (unattended baggage, a passenger in a restricted area, crowd formation, etc.), estimates and predicts wait times and spots suspicious behaviour patterns anywhere in the airport.


Recognizing dangerous behaviors with predictive analytics and machine learning complement current security measures and promotes better flying conditions. The theory behind behavior recognition is based on the theory that when someone is in the process of carrying out a criminal or terrorist act, that person exhibits behavior that is out of the norm.


According to datanami.com, this type of behavior is often a tip-off that something is wrong, and can be split into two categories . This may include micro behavior like facial expressions, perspiration, lack of eye contact. Macro behavior is broader movement throughout the space, such as attempting to hide his or her face by turning away when someone approaches or trying to stay out of sight. By using predictive analytics, security operation managers can monitor both access and behavior of internal employees and contractors, identifying dangerous insiders and halting an attack before it happens.


S&T’s Immersive Imaging System’s High-Resolution Images & 360-degree Coverage, Provides Full Scene Situational Awareness

Airports are flooded with people and cargo around the clock. For security practitioners, it could seem impossible to catch everything that happens in such a wide open, but extremely crowded space. Stadiums and other large, public venues require near-perfect surveillance systems to do so.


Funded by S&T and developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL), Immersive Imaging System (IIS) could provide security practitioners with vastly greater imagery than any prior camera system, collecting visual data that is both clear and comprehensive. Offering high-resolution images and 360-degree coverage, the system provides full scene situational awareness of areas of interest with rapid forensic capabilities and real-time actionable data analytics.


360-degree view will help maximize visibility for a curb-to-gate solution in airports. A 180 degree version of IIS is currently being demonstrated at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field under a project with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The award winning IIS technology has been licensed to Consolidated Resource Imaging, LLC (CRI). The IIS systems can be custom configured to provide a 90 to 360 degree area of coverage, depending on the installation location.


Many cameras today are pan-tilt-zoom and must be pointed directly at areas of interest, forcing operators to choose either a high-resolution view of a small area or a low-resolution, larger area view. The 360-degree cameras currently available are mostly low-resolution and only inform other pan-tilt cameras where to look.


IIS transforms typical 360-degree situational awareness by delivering a resolution sufficient to identify even the smallest details at distances up to 100 meters in all directions simultaneously, adding a new layer of safety to high-impact locations. Using up to 50 individual, high-resolution cameras and lenses, the system stitches the many perspectives into a single, continuous image. The system’s graphical user interface incorporates viewer software with detection and video processing algorithms, delivering a constant, all-encompassing feed, Fortune explained.S&T’s Immersive Imaging System provides a small presence but big impact with its expansive 180-degree field of view.


It also allows multiple operators at once to scan and zoom across the whole 360-degree span digitally, selecting areas to designate for automated alerts as well as play back archived footage to review critical events. Full-resolution footage can be stored and retrieved from the camera for up to 30 days, and image compression allows for efficient capture of data. One challenge, of course, is managing the volume of data collected from such a powerful system over long time periods. However, the Immersive Imaging System’s storage solution enables extremely high data rates, which further supports real-time surveillance.


This high resolution camera array provides first responders and critical infrastructure owners with increased capability to identify threats and analyze incidents with better quality analytics as compared to today’s standard CCTV systems, explained Jim Grove, S&T Portfolio Manager to FLETC. The goal of the pilot is to provide requirements for analytical software and development of a mobile version of the system, which could be used at crowded areas and high-risk events.


DHS S&T awards $200K to Quanergy Systems for LiDAR technology

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) awarded $200,000 to Quanergy Systems, Inc, a Sunnyvale, California-based start-up, to develop LiDAR-based technology to enhance Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) counting and measuring capabilities in airport security and customs processing queues.


According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 227 million international passengers entered U.S. ports of entry in 2017. This high volume of travelers is continuing to grow, potentially resulting in congestion in processing areas. “Developing more accurate and flexible tools to analyze the way changes in operations impact processing and queue times could result in a powerful capability to collect quantitative data to inform decision-making in the facilitation of the flow of travelers.”


LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a method of surveying and sensing objects through the use of laser light. Quanergy’s awarded LiDAR capability consists of two parts – a mechanical spinning LiDAR sensor with a 360° field of view and a solid state—or non-moving—sensor.


Quanergy’s technology detects human presence and anonymously analyzes and tracks the walking paths and density of travelers within the LiDAR’s field of view. When crowds are bottlenecked, CBP agents may be able to detect and adjust queues and staffing to optimize the customs and inspection processes.


Cyber threats and Cyber Security

The security of commercial airlines and whether the systems crucial to fly planes are vulnerable to cyber-attacks hit the headlines recently after a security researcher claimed that he had been able to hack into flight controls via his underseat entertainment unit. Airport databases are hubs for client information such as financial and personal data. The increasing reliance on the internet for operations such as data storage, tracking of cargo in real-time, and others can subject this information to security breaches and data theft.


“Cyber security means analyzing the risk systematically and with a calm head, anticipating the threats and addressing the main vulnerabilities, supporting industry with the actions it needs to take, and taking the right actions as regulators to help protect industry and passengers when we need to,” says Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Department for Transport.


The high installation and maintenance costs of the solutions is hindering the growth of the airport security market. The technology must be upgraded at frequent intervals of time as hacking software are continuously evolving at a rapid rate. For instance, the Petya ransomware, working similar to WannaCry, is disrupting the operations of airports and large companies in Russia and Ukraine causing the normal operations to be halted.

Airport Security Market Growth

The Airport Security Market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $9 billion to over $16 billion by 2024; according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc.


Growing number of safety threats are compelling airports to become highly vigilant and are dictating the requirement for smarter security solutions. Such factors are driving investments towards the development of screening and identification technologies such as  RFID, biometrics in identity and access monitoring, contactless entryway checkpoints, x-ray scanners, and thermal cameras and prototype screening devices among others.  Conventional security measures employ invasive procedures and protocols such as physical checks and body pat-downs which are highly uncomfortable.


To boost passenger convenience, airport security market vendors are investing in R&D activities for the development of technologies such as x-ray scanners. In high-risk settings, preventive measures are required over reactive technologies. In such cases, it is essential to track and forecast security threats in contrast to taking measures to fix the issues after their occurrence.



Screening technology was worth over USD 4 billion in 2015. Increasing adoption owing to the presence of the advanced features including metal detectors, X-ray machines and protection from sudden attack is fueling the technology demand. The ability to screen individuals and luggage to identify endangered material will positively impact the airport security market share.


The airport cybersecurity market is anticipated to dominate the revenue during the forecast time period. Cyber-attacks can be conducted from within the airport complex and from remote locations. Large airport that contain massive databases of critical customer financial and personal data are susceptible to these threats and are accounting to its high adoption. In July 2013, for instance, the hacking attack on the software of Istanbul Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports, caused the passport control systems to shut down at the departure terminal lines, causing customers to miss flights and experience delays for approximately six hours.


Asia Pacific is anticipated to witness significant growth owing to the attractive India and China airport security market share and growth prospects. The region accounted for over 25% of the global revenue in 2015. Economic growth and improving infrastructure are driving demand for advanced security solution in the region. Middle East & Africa airport security market size is expected to witness notable growth due to the rise in the vulnerabilities and undesirable attacks in the countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


Prominent players in the airport security market include  Thermo Electron Corporation, Smiths Detection, Safran Morpho, OSI Systems (Rapiscan), L-3 Security & Detection, Mistral Security Inc, Brijot Imaging Systems, QinetiQ Ltd., Hitachi, Red X Defense, Ketech Defence, Scanna MSC Ltd. and American Science & Engineering. Other notable players include, Bosch Security Systems, Westminster International Ltd., Flir Systems, American Science and Engineering, Inc., Nuctech Co. Ltd., L-3 Communications Security & Detection Systems, Scanna MSC Ltd., LIXI, Inc, Syagen Technology etc,  AutoClear LLC, CEIA, and Lockheed Martin. Technological innovations and increase in R&D expenditure are among the key strategies adopted by participants to offer differential solutions to maximize market share.



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