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Imaging technology is an integral part of TSA's effort to continually look for new technologies that help ensure travel remains safe and secure by staying ahead of evolving threats.
TSA uses two types of imaging technology, millimeter wave and backscatter. Currently, there are 46 imaging technology units in use at 22 airports.
There are 40 millimeter wave units in use at 19 airports and five backscatter units in use at three airports.
TSA plans to deploy a total of approximately 450 imaging technology units in 2010.
TSA has implemented strict measures to protect passenger privacy, which is ensured through the anonymity of the image. The image cannot be stored, transmitted or printed, and is deleted immediately once viewed. Advanced imaging technology screening is optional to all passengers.
How the Technology Workswww.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/tech_backscatter.jpg" />
- Backscatter technology projects low level X-ray beams over the body to create a reflection of the body displayed on the monitor.www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/tech_millimeter_wave.jpg" />
- Millimeter wave technology bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off the body to create a black and white three-dimensional image.
What TSA Seeswww.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/mmw_large.jpg" rel="nofollow">www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/mmw_small.jpg" style="border-bottom:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;border-left:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;padding-bottom:10.0px;border-right-width:0.0px;padding-left:10.0px;padding-right:10.0px;border-top:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;padding-top:10.0px;" /> www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/backscatter_large.jpg" rel="nofollow"> www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/approach/backscatter_small.jpg" style="border-bottom:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;padding-bottom:10.0px;padding-left:10.0px;padding-right:10.0px;border-top:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;border-left-width:0.0px;border-right:rgb(204,204,204) 1.0px solid;padding-top:10.0px;" />
- Millimeter wave technology produces an image that resembles a fuzzy photo negative.
- Backscatter technology produces an image that resembles a chalk etching.
- Both technologies are viewed by a Transportation Security Officer in a remote, secure location.
- Advanced imaging technology is safe and meets national health and safety standards.
- Backscatter technology was evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
- All results confirmed that the radiation doses for the individuals being screened, operators, and bystanders were well below the dose limits specified by the American National Standards Institute.
- For comparison, the energy projected by millimeter wave technology is 10,000 times less than a cell phone transmission.
- A single scan using backscatter technology produces exposure equivalent to two minutes of flying on an airplane.
Protecting Passenger Privacy
- Strict privacy safeguards are built into the foundation of TSA’s use of advanced imaging technology to protect passenger privacy and ensure anonymity.
- The officer who assists the passenger never sees the image the technology produces.
- The officer who views the image is remotely located, in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger.
- To further protect passenger privacy, millimeter wave technology blurs all facial features and backscatter has an algorithm applied to the entire image.
- The two officers communicate via wireless headset. Once the remotely located officer determines threat items are not present, that officer communicates wirelessly to the officer assisting the passenger. The passenger may then continue through the security process.
- Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image.
- Officers evaluating images are not permitted to take cameras, cell phones or photo-enabled devices into the resolution room.
- Each image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.
What to Expect
- Each passenger will walk into the imaging portal. Once inside, they will be asked to stand in different positions and remain still for just a few moments while the technology creates an image of the passenger in real time.
- Once complete, the passenger will exit the opposite side of the portal.
- Advanced imaging technology does not store, print, transmit or save the image. All machines have zero storage capability and all images are automatically deleted from the system after they are reviewed by the remotely located security officer.
What are my Options?
- Advanced imaging technology screening is optional for all passengers.
- Passengers who do not wish to utilize this screening will receive an equal level of screening, including a physical pat-down.
- Multiple signs informing passengers about the technology, including sample images, are displayed in plain sight at the security checkpoints, in front of the advanced imaging units.
- Many passengers prefer advanced imaging technology. In fact, over 98 percent of passengers who encounter this technology during TSA pilots prefer it over other screening options.
- Additionally, passengers with joint replacements or other medical devices that would regularly alarm a metal detector often prefer this technology because it is quicker and less-invasive than a pat down.
This walk-through imaging technology efficiently detects metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons, explosives and other items that a passenger is carrying on his/her person, without physical contact.
Airports receiving technologies soon:
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
- Los Angeles International Airport
- Mineta San José International Airport
- Oakland International Airport
- Port Columbus International Airport
- San Diego International Airport
Airports who currently have technologies:
- Albuquerque International Sunport Airport
- Boston Logan International Airport
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
- Denver International Airport
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
- Detroit Metro Airport
- Indianapolis International Airport
- Jacksonville International Airport
- Kansas City International Airport
- McCarran International Airport
- Los Angeles International Airport
- Miami International Airport
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport
- Richmond International Airport
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
- San Francisco International Airport
- Salt Lake City International Airport
- Tampa International Airport
- Tulsa International Airport
Other Advanced Imaging Technology Deployments
- Colorado Springs Court House (CO)
- Cook County Court House (IL)
- Department of Corrections facility (PA)
- Douglas County Colorado Justice Center
- Montana State Prison
- Utah State Correctional Facility
Advanced imaging technology is used in hundreds of locations around the world in aviation and mass transit environments, including Canada, France, the Netherlands, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
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This is a fabulous explanation. Thank you. This information should relieve most travelers anxiety. I'll be travelling with my grand-daughters this Sept/Oct and we were concerned about their exposure to this technology.