atta-alomari-2009-12-2-13-42-32If the Department of Homeland Security has their way, airports will soon have cameras with 360-degree recording capabilities. A new surveillance  system developed by Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is designed to heighten airport security with a real-time panoramic view of a particular area using multiple shots from high resolution cameras.

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face_recognition With all the threats of bombs and hijackers boarding planes, and the recent exposure of how weak our airport security really is, experts are brainstorming of new, high tech ways to catch terrorists. One high tech proposal is to create a system of camera and sensors in airports that will be able to read people’s minds and pick who should be pulled out for extra screening. As unrealistic as it sounds, this is something that can really be done, and chances are, will soon be.

One company is working on making this a reality by creating a system called WeCU – as in “We See You.” The way that this system would work is it would project images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a terrorist group or some other image only a terrorist would recognize. The idea behind doing this is that it will trigger a reaction because people can’t help reacting, even if only subtly or even unconsciously, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. An example of this would be if you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, you couldn’t help but respond. The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing.

The WeCU system would use trained officials to do some of the observing but would mostly rely on hidden cameras or sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate. If the sensors picked up a suspicious reaction, the traveler could be pulled out of line for further screening.

“One by one, you can screen out from the flow of people those with specific malicious intent,”  said Ehud Givon, CEO of WeCU Technologies.

face-scanAnother method for screening passengers that is being worked on by Homeland Security is called the Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, and works like a souped-up polygraph or lie detector test.

The people pulled aside for additional screening would have to go through a number of tests, including scans of facial movements and pupil dilation, for signs of deception. Small platforms similar to the balancing boards used in the Nintendo Wii would help detect fidgeting, which is another strong sign of deception. The balancing boards could also be made to work passively, scanning people as they walk through a security line, helping find individuals with malicious intent. Field testing of the FAST system could begin in 2011 and will cost around $20 million to develop.

As much as this sounds like science fiction, this is something that will soon be common practice in most airports, and hopefully will be enough to catch terrorists and keep passengers safe. And at the same time, should cut down the time wasted by using random security checks on people that would most likely not be terrorists, such as 80-year-old grandmothers or students.

(Via News.Yahoo)

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body-scanners-372Since last week’s failed bomb attempt, the TSA has issued several new security measures that affect flyers, but this latest move is probably the most invasive one yet. The TSA now plans on expanding their use of full body Scanners at U.S. airports.

Full body scanners would likely have enabled airport security officials to detect the powdered explosive that the terror suspect wore on him during his attempt. However, these scanners are also very intrusive in that they pretty much make a person appear stripped down and naked in the scanner’s viewer. Regardless, the TSA has purchased 150 more of the machines and they plan to purchase 300  more this year.

However, at this time if someone doesn’t want to go through the full body scanner they’ll be able to request a pat down instead. NowPublic has a full list of US airports that are currently using full-body scanners as a primary screening tool which is definitely worth checking out. Users of the FlyerTalk forum have also put together a list of US airports that are using full-body scanners in some capacity. Let us just hope there arrant any terrorists that are aware of these helpful lists.

(Via the Examiner | Image via ImpactLab)

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airport-security1After the recent terrorist attack attempt that happened this past Christmas, airports are stepping up their security measures once again. This time around there are going to be a lot more restrictions, and double the security checks. Some of the new restrictions include the uncomfortable rule that passengers have to stay seated during the last hour of the flight and are not allowed to go to the bathroom during that time. This rule applies to both domestic and international flights.

During that last hour of the flight, passengers will also be prohibited from having any items in their laps or seat area. What kind of items will this will apply to has not been defined yet (books, magazines, water bottles, hand-held electronic games, and babies?). Some airlines are also prohibiting pillows and blankets.

“The remaining in the seat during the last hour of the flight rule is being imposed by the Transportation Security Administration as a direct result of the fact that the recent failed terrorist attempt occurred during the last hour of a flight and the terrorist spent 20 minutes in the restroom preparing his bomb” – Examiner.com

Another new rule in effect is that each passenger is only allowed to carry one item (how that is defined may vary by airline). And there will also be two security checks. First one will be when entering the boarding area, and then another one right before you board the plane. To make sure you catch your flight on time, you should check the rules for your airport before leaving, and make sure to arrive extra early.

(Via the Examiner)

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milliTerrorists have a new weapon of choice, an undetectable bomb that even the most advanced scanners can’t pick up. It is a military grade explosive known as PETN, and it’s powerful enough to blow up a car with just a 100 grams. It is also the same type of explosive that terrorists like the Shoe-Bomber attempted to use, and the same one that the infamous Christmas flight bomber failed to use on his flight to Detroit.

What is so appealing about this explosive to terrorists is that it is very small, yet powerful for its size, it’s also undetectable by metal detectors, and it can be hidden on the body. Even with the Millimeter Wave Screening scanner (a new scanner used in some airports that takes an X-Ray like picture of the body), the bombs were not detected.

This experience shows us that the government and airports have to step up their security and find a new way to screen passengers for these types of explosives. Or at the very least, start using more of the methods of screening passengers to prevent terrorists from sneaking explosives onto the planes.

(Via the Canadian Press)

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faaA computer glitch at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has caused the automated flight plan system to crash, forcing airports to revert back to manually entering the flight takeoff and landing data. This caused airports around the country to slow down to around 40%-50% of what they could accomplish in a day. All of their flights have been delayed, and some even canceled.

Officials are not sure what caused this crash, but  they say this system is the same one that previously crashed in August of 2008.

“The system — the National Airspace Data Interchange Network, or NADIN — appears to be the same one that failed in August 2008. The FAA said flight plans are being processed through the network’s Salt Lake City, Utah office,” -CNN

(Via BusinessPundit)

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