EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out new precheck service equipment aimed at keeping air travel safe and speeding up the security process.
“It helps me sleep better at night that we have this tremendous additional capability and tool that helps us do our job better,” Thomas Carter, federal security director for the TSA, said after a demonstration of the equipment Thursday morning at Atlantic City International Airport.
New to the airport’s passenger checkpoint are credential authentication technology and four computed tomography scanners.
Atlantic City International joins several other airports around the country, including Trenton-Mercer and Newark Liberty International, to include the devices.
The purchases are part of efforts by regulators to upgrade security by streamlining procedures, including a pilot facial-recognition program TSA is testing in airports nationwide, including in Atlanta, Boston and Dallas.
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“In Atlantic City, we do between 1,000 to 2,000 (passengers) a day, and we are very stable at that volume,” Carter said.
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The equipment has been at Atlantic City International for several weeks, and so far, it’s making precheck more efficient, Carter said.
When heading to their planes, passengers will first meet a security officer manning the CAT technology, which scans identification cards.
Using a database of more than 2,500 identification types, it can spot abnormalities in any of them.
In Thursday’s demonstration, the computer spotted abnormalities in several fake IDs, such as wrong bar codes and license designs from various states, alerting officers to the errors.
“Our officers’ use of CAT technology substantially improves our threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” Carter said.
Next, scanners from Analogic Corp., a technology company, illustrate in 3D the contents of bags being passed through inspection.
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While a bag passes through the device, an officer sits opposite of the passengers, watching the computer sketch everything from shoes to water bottles.
By having customers remove fewer items, checkpoint speeds will increase, making the process faster and less stressful for passengers, officials said.
“Previously, our screening technology for carry-on bags used 2D images,” Carter said. “The CT (computed tomography) technology applies advanced algorithms for the detection of explosives, including liquid explosives and other threat items.”
Federal officials are moving forward with plans to bring more of this technology to additional airports. Last month, TSA announced an award of up to $1.3 billion to Analogic and other companies for scanning supplies. In March 2022, TSA announced an award for $781.2 million.
The purchases announced in April would be installed across the country in 2023, the company said in an April news release.
“These CT units represent sophisticated technology that helps our professional, dedicated and highly skilled workforce detect new and evolving threats to improve aviation security,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement last month. “Deploying these units across our security checkpoints as expeditiously as possible will also improve checkpoint efficiency and the passenger experience.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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