From 10-13 December 2013, through a Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW) initiative within the Emerging Security Challenges Division at NATO HQ, NCI Agency and industry conducted a trial to test new solutions aimed at combining sensor information in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in the context of Air Transportation Security.
The trial was opened by the E3A Component Commander, MGEN Andrew M. Mueller, USAF who personally volunteered to experience the security screening concept.
The event highlights NATO's efforts to protect military and civilians. This is part of a coherent strategy adopted within the DAT POW that aims at finding immediate solutions to prevent non-conventional attacks(http://www.nato.int/cps/nl/natolive/topics_50313.htm).
In an airport configuration, supported by the NATO E3A Component at the Geilenkirchen airbase, various scenarios were tested that emphasised information enhancement through combining inputs from multiple sensors. A total of four sensors consisting of: an explosive detector, a metal detector, a X-ray scanner (that combine both dual-energy transmission with Z Backscatter ® technology), and a passive millimetre-wave walk-by security scanner were tested within an integrated system. In addition, (localized) biometric information was used to manage the flow of passengers through the screening systems.
The architecture analysed during the trial concentrated the information from all sensors into one decision point where a combined threat level was estimated for the passengers being screened. This solution eliminates manual processes currently applied in normal airport conditions and has the potential to increase the passenger throughput while maintaining or improving the security level. During the trial a final assessment was made by an operator based on the system recommendation and in case of a suspected threat a manual search was employed.
Combining information from multiple sensors enables the coverage of a broader spectrum
of threats compared to a single sensor assessment, and also has the potential to reduce the number of false alarms during such a procedure. Furthermore, the configuration promises faster processing of passengers and luggage, a more reliable assessment of the threats and elimination of health and privacy issues due to passive scanning technologies that provide automatic object detection.
The Security Branch at the E3A Component in Geilenkirchen has significant experience in transportation security and facilitated access to a representative set of threats and practical operation procedures. A large number of volunteers from the airbase contributed to the collection of statistical representative data.
The four industry partners that provided the sensors were: Morpho (Safran group, FRA), Alfa Imaging (ESP), American Science and Engineering, Inc. - AS&E (USA) and Costruzioni Elettroniche Industriali Automatismi S.p.A. - CEIA (ITA).