Make us your home page
Instagram

TIA to get upgraded scanner technology

Travelers soon won't need to worry about revealing too much skin during security scans at Tampa International Airport.

To blunt criticism that the fuzzy images of people's bodies amounted to a digital strip search, the Transportation Security Administration is installing software to make airport scanners across the country less intrusive.

With the older technology, travelers step inside a scanner that creates an X-ray-like image of their bodies beneath the outer layer of clothes. A TSA officer in a remote room examines the 3-D picture for suspicious items and passes along the results.

The upgraded machines produce a generic gray outline of a human form for every passenger on a screen attached to the scanning booth. Some workers have nicknamed the image "The Gumby." Potential weapons or explosives show up as yellow boxes located on the figure.

Screens, roughly the size of a laptop computer, flash a green "OK'' for passengers that pass the scan. Travelers who set off an alert will get a hands-on body search by a TSA officer. Ditto for passengers who refuse to submit to scanning.

The work to install the new software is under way at Tampa International, said TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz. Citing security concerns, she declined to say when machines with the new software will begin screening passengers at TIA's four gate terminals.

"We are installing it in Tampa and will do a demonstration for the traveling public soon,'' Koshetz said. Eventually, all scanners in U.S. airports that use radio waves to identify weapons hidden under clothes — called millimeter wave scanners — will get the software change.

The TSA tested the new software this year at Las Vegas McCarran International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports.

"We believe it addresses the privacy issues that have been raised,'' said TSA Administrator John Pistole said at a Washington news conference in February.

The agency also found two other advantages: The upgraded machines take less time to screen travelers and don't require an officer to view the images in a remote room.

Pistole declared the tests a success three weeks ago and pledged to load the software into all of the TSA's 241 millimeter wave scanners — nearly half of all the scanners the agency operates.

L-3 Communications, a huge defense contractor headquartered in New York, assembles the ProVision millimeter wave machines in a plant just off Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg. The facility employs about 230 workers.

The TSA also buys scanners from Rapiscan Systems of Torrance, Calif., which uses X-rays to make a two-dimensional image for screening. Rapiscan is expected to have similar software that creates a generic passenger image ready for the TSA to start testing in the fall.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report. Contact Steve Huettel at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

TIA to get upgraded scanner technology 08/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month

    Markets

    How low can Florida's unemployment go? Pretty low, according to the state's latest unemployment numbers. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent for June, down from 4.3 percent in May, state officials said Friday morning.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  3. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 16.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.