Magazine article National Defense

Sneak Peeks: TSA to Use Standoff Sensors in Crowded Train Stations

Magazine article National Defense

Sneak Peeks: TSA to Use Standoff Sensors in Crowded Train Stations

Article excerpt

The Transportation Security Administration will begin using a recently unclassified remote sensor to scan rail and cruise line passengers as they walk by for explosives and other weapons, said an agency official.

Passive millimeter wave detectors are designed to peer under clothing to see guns, knives, ceramics and bombs. The system can be used covertly or overtly, according to its manufacturer, QinetiQ.

TSA sees the sensors as a solution to ferreting out possible terrorists seeking to infiltrate subway or commuter train stations. Because of the high volume of foot traffic and numerous entryways, such environments cannot accommodate individual searches similar to those carried out at airports.

The systems will first be tested on cruise line passengers at an as yet unspecified location in the Northeast, Bob Pryor, domain manager for surface transportation at TSA, said at a railway security conference.

The tests will be expanded to four sites at rail or subway stations on the: east and west coasts.

"It's harder to find threats in mass transit because it's more open," Pryor said. "You're dealing with dynamic situations because you don't have nearly as much control of the traveling public in those environments."

Pryor said remote sensors that scan passengers as they walk by are the "wave of the future." They can be fused with closed-circuit televisions, which are widely accepted by the public.

"A passenger need never know that they are being scanned," a QinetiQ fact sheet said. …

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