Belts off, coats off, shoes off and placed in the bin. Every traveler is familiar with the process and the queue that defines TSA security checkpoints at airports across the country. But that procedure may become a thing of the past.
The Department of Homeland Security wants to make airport security faster for fliers. To do that, it will need technology companies to develop a new generation of security scanners. The agency recently posted what amounts to a "help wanted" ad on the website Fedbizopps.gov. The government website posts federal government business opportunities. In this case DHS is seeking advice and information from technology companies who would develop a newer, more efficient wave of airport security scanners.
DHS wants scanners that would add speed to the security process, allowing 250 passengers through per hour without having to remove their shoes and outer garments.
"TSA is always looking for new technology and procedures that will enhance security and increase efficiency," the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.
TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, began deploying state of the art advanced imaging technology to airports in 2008. Current scanners detect metallic and nonmetallic threats, including weapons and explosives, that may be concealed under clothing.
The government wants the new scanners to screen passengers as they walk without passengers being required to "significantly alter walking paths" or shed clothing. DHS also wants the new scanners to be able to scan shoes. "The system will automatically detect the required threats with no operator interpretation required." That means no need to wait for a TSA officer to review the X-ray images on the monitor.
Travelers shouldn't expect fast moving TSA security lines just yet. The government's call to tech companies is just the first step in what could be a multiyear process.