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DHS Seeks All-In-One Self-Screening Solution for Airports

A new solicitation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will call for all-in-one self-checkout solutions akin to those seen at grocery stores.

The DHS S&T Screening at Speed (SaS) program pursues transformative research and development activities that support a future vision for increasing aviation security effectiveness from curb to gate while dramatically reducing wait times and improving the passenger experience. 

To enable this vision, SaS, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) Innovation Task Force, is considering the development of a passenger self-screening solution to transform the TSA’s concept of operations. This concept is initially targeted towards the TSA PreCheck ™ environment, but as the capability matures it may be deployed as a part of a variety of security postures.

Just like self-checkout at grocery stores, self-tagging checked baggage, or ATM machines, DHS wants to provide passengers with an experience that they can complete all by themselves, at their own pace. As well as aiming to please passengers, the initiative would also save on manpower for the agency, or at least reassign officers to other needed roles. In the current traveling era, measures which limit close contact are also beneficial.

Specifically, SaS is seeking to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a solution that would:

  • Enable a self-sufficient experience in the passenger screening process.
  • Allow for passenger on-person screening and divestment of personal property (for X-ray screening) to occur in a single step, compared to the two distinct steps that exist at airports today.
  • Enable passengers to directly receive on-person alarm information while divesting, and allow for the passenger self-resolution of alarms through continued divestment to reduce instances where a pat-down/secondary screening procedure would be necessary.
  • Allow passengers to complete the screening process more quickly.
  • Maintain or improve the current security posture at the airport checkpoint.

Successful solutions would detect weapons and organic threat items hidden on passengers without the same level of Transportation Security Officer (TSO) engagement normally present in the screening process. The solution would be deployed in conjunction with an X-ray system so that a passenger may be screened while they complete the divestiture process for inspection of their accessible property. 

The solicitation is intended to develop three components of a future passenger self-screening solution. The first effort includes the systems engineering, and concept design and development of a passenger-self screening solution. This effort uses a phased approach to develop requirements, monitor progress, and reduce technical risk in a methodical way. The goal of the base period of this effort is to develop a sufficiently specified system concept where DHS S&T would be able to assess the viability of the concept and to specify high-level requirements for subsystems suitable for future research and development acquisition efforts. If all options are exercised, the final result is the delivery of design documentation that can be used in building an engineering prototype.

The second effort seeks to rapidly mature novel low to mid technology readiness level hardware systems that are capable of safely detecting anomalous passenger activity and threat items hidden on passengers or in their accessible property. DHS S&T is seeking technologies that may be matured to Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 7 in twelve months or less.

The third effort seeks to rapidly mature novel software systems that can detect anomalous passenger activity and threat items hidden on passengers or in their accessible property. As for the second effort, DHS S&T is again seeking technologies that may be matured to TRL 7 in twelve months or less.

The requirement to be solicited will not be a small business set-aside. It will be available for full and open competition and DHS anticipates awarding multiple stand-alone contracts as a result of the solicitation. 

DHS S&T’s announcement notes that the  government is not utilizing a General Services Administration Schedule or any sort of government-wide or multiple-award contract to issue an order. A solicitation will be posted on beta.SAM.gov. whereupon parties may submit one or more white papers which shall be considered by the agency.  Notification of selection for an award is anticipated in late fiscal year 2020 or early fiscal year 2021.  

Read the full announcement at beta.SAM

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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