Wednesday, July 20, 2011

TSA Takes Further Steps to Enhance Passenger Privacy on Millimeter Wave Machines Nationwide

Back in February, I posted about how we had begun testing Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software for millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).  The testing started at the Transportation Security Lab (TSL) back in the fall of 2010, and after piloting the software in the field (ATL, DCA, and LAS) we’re ready to start rolling it out!

Over the next few months, the software will be installed on every millimeter wave imaging technology unit in the field.  Future millimeter wave units will come with the new software already installed.  There are currently nearly 500 AIT units in the field (both backscatter and millimeter wave), and there are plans to roll out even more later this year. As far as backscatter units, there are plans to test similar software in the fall.

If you’re not familiar with ATR, it works with our imaging technology (Body Scanners) and eliminates passenger-specific images and replaces them with the generic outline of a person.  Here’s how it works: You step into the AIT machine and the new software will auto-detect potential threats and show their location. The image is on a monitor that is attached to the AIT unit in public view. Because this eliminates privacy concerns, we no longer have to place an officer in a separate room to view the images. 

Alarm image:


Non Alarm image
















If there is no alarm, the following is displayed:
Non alarm image

















We are always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections. That’s why we worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) and private industry to develop the software. For more information about TSA and advanced imaging technology, visit www.tsa.gov/ait.

TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.
 


Saturday, July 16, 2011

C4 Explosive Found In Passenger’s Checked Luggage

ETD Machine
ETD Machine
A passenger flying out of Yuma International Airport was arrested after a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) searched his bag in response to an Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) test that came back positive. One-half ounce of C4 explosive was found in his checked bag, concealed in a tobacco can. 

ETD machines can detect the smallest amounts of explosives and have been in use since TSA rolled out in 2002. They are used in checkpoint, checked baggage, and cargo environments. We swab things such as laptops, shoes, film, cell phones, bags, wheelchairs, hands, casts, etc. Basically, our officers run the white swab over an area  to collect a trace sample. They then place the swab in the ETD machinery which analyzes the sample for extremely small traces of explosives. The test takes a matter of seconds.

Great job TSA Yuma!

TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.
 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Known Traveler Passenger Screening Pilot

In the last several months you've heard us talking about applying more risk-based screening procedures to our security checkpoints, based upon the latest intelligence. Well, the time has come and in the Fall, we will begin a passenger screening pilot for a select group of travelers who volunteer more information about themselves. If we can confirm a person's identity and learn a little more about them through information they opt to provide, and then combine that information with our other layers of security, we can strengthen air travel security for all Americans while at the same time speeding up the screening process for those participating in the pilot.

During the first phase of testing, certain frequent fliers and certain members of CBP's Trusted Traveler programs, including members of Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS, who are U.S. citizens will be eligible to participate in this pilot, which could qualify them for expedited screening.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports, certain frequent fliers from Delta Air Lines and certain members of CBP's Trusted Traveler programs who are U.S. citizens and who are also flying on Delta will be eligible to participate in the pilot.

At Miami International and Dallas Fort Worth International airports, certain frequent fliers from American Airlines and certain members of CBP's Trusted Traveler programs who are U.S. citizens and who are also flying on American will be eligible.

TSA plans to expand this pilot to include United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines, as well as additional airports, once operationally ready. If this pilot proves successful, it would help us focus our resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers, while expediting screening for lower-risk and known passengers whenever possible.

Only those passengers who initially agree to "opt in" from those populations will have the opportunity to participate at this time. And of course, passengers are always subject to random, unpredictable screening measures and at no point would participation in this pilot automatically qualify a passenger for permanent expedited screening. 

This will very much be a work in progress. It's important to remember that this is starting off as a pilot program - an effort to validate our ideas on how to move forward. But, if successful it is a substantial shift away from the one size fits all and we think you'll like it. 

TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Screening Procedures for Hair

We’ve received questions this week about TSA’s screening procedures for hair after news reports today on this topic. As we’ve said many times before, TSA does not profile. It just doesn’t make good security sense. 

In this case, it was reported in the news that a passenger went through imaging technology and additional screening was necessary to resolve an anomaly. As is the case with all imaging technology screening, the officer viewing the image is in a separate location and cannot see the passenger being screened when determining whether he or she needs a pat-down. For example, in this image you can see for yourself there is no way to profile based on a person’s appearance. TSA has zero tolerance for profiling.

Anybody who travels through our checkpoints may undergo additional screening if necessary to resolve alarms or anomalies. This could include additional screening of clothing, headwear or hair. These are all places where dangerous items can be hidden and our policies are in place to keep the traveling public safe.

You can read more about our pat-downs here.

Blogger Bob 
TSA Blog Team 

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA. 

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Staying Ahead of Potential Terrorist Threats

A possible terrorist threat is in the news today, and many of you are likely wondering what’s going on behind the scenes.

TSA recently briefed air carriers and foreign partners on intelligence involving concealed explosives. Unfortunately, intelligence has continued to indicate an interest in terrorists targeting aviation. Due to the global technological advancements in security, they are pursuing different ways to go undetected while concealing explosives.

Passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place. These measures are designed to be unpredictable and may differ from location to location. What kind of screening might passengers notice? Increased interaction with passengers, pat-downs, canines, and the use of different technologies such as explosive trace detection.

Because TSA does not conduct aviation security screening overseas, our air carrier and foreign government partners play a critical role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities and raising the awareness of U.S. counterterrorism officials. Airports with direct flights to the United States must ensure they meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security standards as well as any additional measures required by TSA. As always, we urge federal, state and local law enforcement as well as the private sector to remain vigilant.

Domestically, TSA employs a layered approach to ensure the security of the traveling public from curb to cockpit and the Nation's transportation system. These layers include intelligence gathering and analysis, deployment of cutting edge technology, random canine team searches at airports, federal air marshals, federal flight deck officers and more security measures both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a strong, formidable system. 

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fireworks Should Fly In The Sky, Not On Planes

Fireworks
Photo: SSGT. LONO KOLLAR
The 4th of July is fast approaching and many of your are taking to the skies for your travel plans. This is your annual reminder to be sure to leave your fireworks at home and not take them on the plane. Be sure your children understand this as well as they tend to hide them in their bags. It’s an FAA violation that will get your travel plans off to a bad start. 

Have a great holiday weekend and stay safe and be sure to check out USA.gov’s Fourth of July page and FEMA's Blog for all sorts of safety tips and cool information about Independence Day. Don’t let this be you.

Blogger Bob 
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

JFK - LAX Stowaway Was Screened By TSA

Many of you are asking about the news involving an individual who made it through two different checkpoints, apparently using another passenger's outdated boarding pass. First, it’s important to point out that our approach is designed so we don’t depend on any single layer of security. Together, the 21 different layers provide a strong, formidable system that gives us the best chance to detect and prevent attacks before they occur. Every day we screen nearly 2 million passengers and utilize many layers of security to keep our nation's transportation systems secure. 

Additionally, TSA has begun lab testing of technology systems that will verify passenger boarding passes and IDs in order to make travel safer for all passengers, and we anticipate purchasing a limited number of systems for deployment beginning this fall. More to come on that in the coming months…

With regards to this incident, due to the ongoing FBI investigation, we're extremely limited in what we can say – but I can tell you that every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening.

In this case, TSA did not properly authenticate the passenger’s documentation. That said, it’s important to note that this individual received the same thorough physical screening as other passengers, including being screened by advanced imaging technology (body scanner). As we continue to review this particular matter, disciplinary action is being considered for the security officers involved and all appropriate actions will be taken. 

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.