Administrator Pekoske spoke with TSA officers at Newark Liberty International Airport in September 2020. (TSA)

DHS S&T Awards Massachusetts Startup Funding for Self-Screening TSA Checkpoints

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts to minimize Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer and traveler interaction during airport screening while maintaining the same level of security. Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) announces $199,950 in Phase 1 funding to Lauretta AI, LLC, a start-up based in Arlington, Massachusetts, to adapt their video analytic solution to meet TSA’s needs. The Phase 1 award was made under SVIP’s Emerging Needs: COVID-19 Response & Future Mitigation solicitation.

DHS S&T’s Screening at Speed Program (SaS) and TSA’s Innovation Task Force (ITF) have been exploring the use of self-screening portals at airport security checkpoints. This effort began prior to the pandemic, but now has accelerated due to COVID-19-related protective measures to minimize exposure and physical contact between TSA transportation security officers and airline passengers. SVIP and ITF are seeking solutions to validate that passengers are properly progressing through the screening process, abnormal behaviors are detected when going through a self-screening portal, and social distancing measures are maintained.

The project proposes to adapt commercially available behavior recognition systems, which use artificial intelligence (AI) technology, to anonymously monitor passengers, their personal items, and carry-on luggage throughout TSA’s airport security screening process. Lauretta AI’s video analytics solution uses off-the-shelf closed-circuit television cameras at screening stations to deter passenger from attempting to circumvent or evade airport security screening protocols and to identify passengers who may need assistance.

“Airlines, real estate, construction, and retail sectors in both the U.S. and abroad are already successfully adapting this commercially available technology,” said Melissa Oh, SVIP Managing Director. “We’re excited to explore this solution that will create a safer environment for the traveling public and TSA’s screening officers.”

“This project is pushing DHS S&T and TSA closer toward realizing our goal to enable passenger self-screening, reduce operator cognitive load, and maintain TSA’s high screening standards, while providing an innovative and convenient experience for airline passengers ” said John Fortune, DHS S&T Screening at Speed Program Manager.

The system does not use biometric data, such as facial recognition. Instead, the system places a unique identifier on passengers as they move through the airport security screening that expires immediately after they leave the checkpoint.  The project proposes to also integrate with automated baggage and body scanning software to create a robust self-service screening solution.

To learn more about S&T response efforts to COVID-19 across the Directorate, please visit S&T Support to the COVID-19 Response.

Read more at DHS S&T

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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