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

TSA Blog Team

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