TSA Enhances Screening Technology at Hagerstown Airport

Cover Photo: TSA, airport and Washington County, Md., officials cut a ribbon, recognizing the new credential authentication technology unit and new computed tomography unit at the security checkpoint at Hagerstown Regional Airport. (TSA photo)

HAGERSTOWN, MD News (4/20/2023) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed two new technology units to enhance screening capabilities of travelers and their belongings at the security checkpoint. A new credential authentication technology (CAT) unit and computed tomography scanner are now in use at the airport’s checkpoint.

Travelers first will engage with the new CAT technology at the travel document checking podium. A passenger’s ID is inserted into the unit, which confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

“The technology enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at the checkpoint and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” says Christopher Murgia, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Maryland. “The system will also confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection. This technology enhances our detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents at the security checkpoint.

CAT units authenticate more than 2,500 different types of IDs including passports, military common access cards, retired military ID cards, Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards, uniformed services ID cards, permanent resident cards, U.S. visas and driver’s licenses and photo IDs issued by state motor vehicle departments. When a traveler hands the TSA officer their ID, the officer places it in the CAT unit, which scans the ID and informs the TSA officer whether the ID is valid.

Travelers who approach the TSA travel document checking podium do not have to show their boarding pass because the CAT unit verifies that the traveler is ticketed to travel out of the airport for a flight that day. Even with TSA’s use of CAT, travelers still need to check-in with their airline in advance and bring their boarding pass to their gate agent to show the airline representative before boarding their flight.

After passing through the travel document checking podium, travelers will then approach the new state-of-the-art advanced technology computed tomography (CT) scanner that provides 3-D imaging that provides critical explosives detection capabilities for screening carry-on items.
“Our officers’ use of CT technology substantially improves our threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” Murgia said. “Previously, our screening technology for carry-on bags used 2-D images. The CT technology applies advanced algorithms for the detection of explosives, including liquid explosives and other threat items.”

The system applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives by creating a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated 360 degrees on three axes for thorough visual image analysis by a TSA officer. This new technology creates such a clear image of a bag’s contents that the system can automatically detect explosives, including liquids, by shooting hundred of images with an X-ray camera spinning around the conveyor belt to provide TSA officers with the three-dimensional views of the contents of a carry-on bag. It takes a few extra seconds for the TSA officer to view the image and rotate it to get a better understanding of its contents, however in most instances, rotating the image allows the TSA officer to identify an item inside the bag and clear it without a need to open it for inspection. Checkpoint CT technology should result in fewer bag checks. However, if a bag requires further screening, a transportation security officer will inspect it to ensure that a threat item is not contained inside.

CT units have a slightly smaller entry tunnel and not all larger carry-on bags will fit into the units. TSA recommends that large carry-on items be checked with the airline.

The CT unit also represents a passenger convenience because passengers using these machines at Hagerstown will be permitted to leave their laptops and other electronic devices in their carry-on bags.

A CAT unit reads a driver’s license that was inserted into the unit and indicates that this license has expired and is no longer valid for passage through the checkpoint. (TSA photo)
A new computed tomography checkpoint scanner is now in use at Hagerstown Regional Airport’s security checkpoint. (TSA photo)

Original article by TSA, courtesy Washington County Government

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