LAS VEGAS – Today, representatives from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) unveiled the Innovation Checkpoint, a collaborative effort between TSA’s Innovation Task Force and the airport that allows for side-by-side testing and evaluation of emerging security technologies in a live checkpoint environment. This is the first and only one of its kind nationwide.
Data collected from these demonstrations will help develop requirements for future innovative capabilities that will enhance TSA’s security effectiveness and improve the passenger experience.
“The Innovation Checkpoint at McCarran International Airport is an exciting initiative that provides TSA with the unique opportunity to demonstrate multiple solutions and capabilities by various vendors in one physical environment without interrupting current airport operations,” said Austin Gould, TSA Assistant Administrator for Requirements and Capabilities Analysis. “Our long-term vision is that this checkpoint will serve as an innovative sandbox for the entire agency to demonstrate new strategies and solutions that will ultimately increase security effectiveness, heighten the passenger experience, and deliver enhanced capabilities to our frontline personnel.”
“Las Vegas is a world-renown destination, and McCarran International Airport is an integral part of the visitor experience. As the first and last look at Las Vegas for millions of visitors every year, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of advancements within the travel industry,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County Director of Aviation. “The lessons to be learned in the Innovation Checkpoint will result in an improved passenger experience across the nation. Aviation security practices will be elevated here first. But what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.”
Technologies that are being evaluated in the Innovation Checkpoint span all aspects of the traveler security screening experience. The checkpoint currently has four fully-equipped screening lanes.
Travelers can expect to see new digital signage as they enter the Innovation Checkpoint. The display towers allow TSA to digitally convey important travel information and reminders such as screening procedures and estimated wait times. Digital signage also enables TSA to quickly modify the information based on real-time events in the security checkpoint.
The Credential Authentication Technology unit scans a passenger’s photo identification to verify the authenticity of the document. The system uses information from the photo identification to confirm a passenger’s flight status by cross-referencing it against the Secure Flight database, all without needing to present a boarding pass.
Computed Tomography scanners screen passengers’ carry-on luggage. The CT technology applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives and other threats to commercial aviation by creating a 3-D image, which can be rotated on three axes for a thorough visual image analysis by a TSA X-ray operator. The technology is similar to CT technology used in the medical field.
An enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT) body scanner, which uses millimeter wave technology, is in place to screen travelers. The open design, flat panel unit allows travelers to have a more relaxed stance with arms at the side during the scan instead of over the head. Also, the TSA officer receives an on-screen prompt if the traveler is improperly positioned during the scan. The unique and open design of the eAIT allows travelers in wheelchairs to access the sterile area of the checkpoint without having to pass through an American with Disabilities Act-compliant gate.
TSA screened the first passengers through the Innovation Checkpoint in early June. Over the past several weeks, TSA has continued to install additional equipment and add new features.
United Airlines has been an active partner in the project. Once the Innovation Checkpoint became operational, many of the airlines’ customers departing LAS were screened through the Innovation Checkpoint. The airline has also assisted in the collection of feedback on its customer’s security experience.
The Innovation Checkpoint at McCarran will continue to serve as the greenspace for the entire agency to pilot and gather data on new strategies that will ultimately increase security effectiveness, enhance the passenger experience, and improve the TSA officer workplace.