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Opening architecture to make air travel safer and easier


A Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory staffer stands in a conventional millimeter wave physique scanner. “Screening has largely been unchanged for the last 20 years, and this project provides an opportunity to really transform how this technology is leveraged for national security and safety,” Sandia optical engineer Ed Jimenez mentioned. Credit: Andrea Starr, Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laborator

Air vacationers might even see sooner, safer safety checkpoints—no must open baggage or take away liquids or footwear—because of the award-winning work of Sandia and their companions who’ve developed an open structure for airport screening techniques.

The Open Menace Evaluation Platform, developed with Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory, NASA and business companions for the Division of Homeland Safety’s Science and Know-how Directorate and the Transportation Safety Administration, will enable officers to reply extra shortly and simply to quickly altering threats to air journey security.

The TSA’s present screening techniques, akin to X-ray machines and physique scanners, are proprietary techniques that scan, annotate and report in several methods, with out speaking with one another. “Only existing vendors can develop ways to address new threats, which have limited the TSA’s flexibility to innovate,” mentioned undertaking lead Andrew Cox, a Sandia analysis and growth techniques analyst beforehand on the TSA.

“When we wanted to change how we screen in response to new threats, the technology was too rigid. The TSA compensated by adding procedures. There’s a shoe bomber and you have to take your shoes off; liquid explosives arrived, and the TSA had to limit liquids and gels,” Andrew mentioned.

Sandia partnered with Pacific Northwest Nationwide Laboratory, which developed a brand new high-definition physique scanner, and business companions like Stratovan to create the Open Platform Software program Library, which can enable the TSA to work with any vendor for a wanted algorithm.

Austin Silva, a Sandia cognitive scientist who oversees growth of the library, mentioned the open architecture will present a typical set of interfaces to develop in opposition to.

A greater variety of distributors will extra shortly and reliably have the ability to create safety upgrades with new algorithms that combine into present screening—seamlessly for vacationers. “Like LEGOs, you’ll be able to rapidly introduce new pieces,” Austin mentioned. The system may have the ability to use totally different algorithms at totally different occasions based mostly on menace degree.

Higher information assortment means safer, extra seamless journey

Sooner innovation in detection will make air journey safer, mentioned Ed Jimenez, an optical engineer at Sandia. The TSA will have the ability to gather information repeatedly and enhance algorithms each few months. Standardizing and modularizing design with an open structure ought to profit business. As soon as the TSA approves them for entry, firms will have the ability to collaborate.

Improved scanners can even enhance passenger expertise. “When you put an object in your bag that’s mistakenly flagged as a threat, the enhanced algorithm has the potential to not ring as a false positive alarm,” Ed mentioned. “You won’t have to open the bag and slow down the line.”

Now in its seventh yr, the Open Menace Evaluation Platform undertaking has concerned virtually a dozen business companions, together with algorithm builders, X-ray distributors and software program specialists. It is a part of a worldwide push to open software program structure. As soon as deployed within the discipline, the platform will “change the safety profile of airports rapidly,” Austin mentioned. “We’ll be able to say, we’ve seen this emerging threat; can anyone in the community develop this algorithm? From there, we’ll be able to manage updates across the aviation security infrastructure.”

Whereas the Open Menace Evaluation Platform is more likely to save the TSA cash and supply income to business, Sandia’s involvement advantages the undertaking as a result of, Andrew mentioned, “if you’re going to develop a standard for one open architecture, you want it to be market-neutral. We’re not going to be playing favorites with any vendor. Everything we or our subcontractors develop would be government owned. We were one of few with the technical expertise to oversee it, and we could implement contracts and partnerships to test out these ideas quickly and effectively.”

The Open Platform Software program Library’s most important code was primarily developed by Stratovan; Sandia continues to contribute cybersecurity experience for evaluation. “We can be the neutral party to evaluate code, then share our results in ways that are actively changing some of their design principles,” Austin mentioned. “We have been able to build cybersecurity into the design process.”

Sandia additionally constructed a prototype TSA checkpoint at Kirtland Air Force Base to quickly collect information on detection of reside explosives in baggage. “These systems are locked down in an airport,” Ed mentioned, “but we were able to procure an X-ray machine, stand up a checkpoint at an explosive range and collect data from real explosives scanned in suitcases. It increased our data acquisition; something that would take a full day took only hours.”


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Opening structure to make air journey safer and simpler (2022, January 17)
retrieved 17 January 2022
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