The new generation of checkpoint X-ray screening equipment currently awaiting Explosives Detection Systems for Cabin Baggage (EDS CB) certification, will be a game changer for airport passenger screening. Ever more stringent regulations are demanding and being met by extremely complex technologies, which not only deliver very high security standards, but also bring significant operational benefits. Equally sophisticated software is likely to be the key to ensuring that these solutions reach their full performance potential.
An advanced screening and management platform will take a collection of individual components and sensors unable to communicate with each other and transform them into a single, integrated and intelligent solution; producing invaluable operational data and supporting new functions such as centralised, remote screening and directed search.
Efficient image analysis
Centralised, remote screening by teams of analysts means that images can be processed faster. Operators can be based alongside the checkpoint, or in a remote location and calm environment where decisions can be made with fewer distractions. Networked images are collected from all security lanes and delivered to the next available operator (wherever situated) who analyses it and then chooses to send the tray through to the passenger or automatically divert it to a recheck point.
As a result of the new EDS CB standards, we will see both conventional, multi-view X-ray and CT scanners operating at checkpoints. Therefore, it is important that the software platform can manage all the images without impacting system certification. Any variation from the certified format in terms of image presentation and manipulation may invalidate the certification standard and restrict the scope of the image analysts. The software platform must enable analysts at both central screening and recheck to utilise the full data set in both 2D and 3D where appropriate – without impairing the certification quality of the image.
Proficient screening increases throughput and allows more flexibility in both lane layout and in designing checkpoints to deal with secondary checks. When further investigation is needed, directed search streamlines the process even further. Operators can identify, mark and classify an area or areas of interest on an image before sending it to the recheck workstation where staff can focus immediately on the exact locations in question.
Actionable management data
Adding an advanced screening and management platform makes it easier to monitor a range of performance indicators and share information via a central dashboard – which can also be accessed from a mobile device.
Access to the software platform provides the real-time data needed to support instant decisions on opening and closing lanes and re-allocating operators; as well as the historical data and reports required for resource planning; general administration; and identifying bottlenecks in the screening process. In addition, it is possible to use the system to monitor and modify device configurations, Threat Image Projections (TIP) image libraries and TIP insertion ratios.
Since each airport has its own operational structure, the software platform should be flexible and adapt accordingly. It is also crucial to choose a product with an architecture which keeps the security system and screening operation separate from checkpoint – this ensures that core screening procedures (including the use of TIP) could continue if the data management facility is, for some reason, unavailable. In addition always look for full CE compliance and also compatibility – any platform should be open and able to integrate with any hardware – irrespective of the manufacturer.
Much to gain
Integrating all the checkpoint components offers clear benefits. Passenger throughput can be increased; resources optimised; operational costs reduced; and security assured.
Networking every checkpoint in the airport will undoubtedly generate invaluable management data and, at the same time streamline the screening process. There are examples of installations linking hundreds of checkpoints across nationwide airports and, although this does depend on a single airport authority, the potential is impressive. For example, a group operating individual airports in different countries could, in theory, connect them all using one single advanced screening and management platform. Similarly, small airports scattered over regional islands could become part of one network.
The latest platforms have been developed based on systems used in hold baggage screening (HBS) and there are some economies for airports which use this software and want to expand it into passenger checkpoints. Today, combined HBS and checkpoint systems are already delivering management and performance data which again suggests interesting possibilities for the future. More complex data exchange between the two screening areas could well improve security even further and also generate additional operational benefits.