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TSA’s Innovation Task Force Seeks Industry Solutions to Address Security Challenges

In support of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Innovation Task Force (ITF), the Department of Homeland Security has issued an Innovative Demonstrations for Enterprise Advancement (IDEA) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for transportation security solutions.

Solutions must address one of the four problem statements:

System-of-Systems Data Integration: TSA lacks the ability to fully harness the large amount of operational data available to drive efficient and effective decisions in realtime. A system-of-systems data integration would incorporate existing data sets with recognition of the dynamic relationship between various screening mission elements from the Transportation Security Equipment (TSE) used for primary and/or secondary screening, as well as Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) actions and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) implementation across the screening process. 

Networked Checkpoint and Checked Baggage: TSA is looking to enable secure data transmission across devices within the screening ecosystem. This includes a system design to address vulnerabilities, ensuring an efficient operational capacity to meet cybersecurity requirements and ensure the security of TSAs checkpoint and checked baggage screening mission. As part of this overarching problem, TSA identifies the Regional Remote/Airport to Airport Screening: TSA is seeking to increase efficiency and effectively perform off-premise image screening (airport to airport) for both Checkpoint and Checked Baggage. This enables TSOs from one airport to inspect images generated by TSE during scanning of property at a different airport. TSA is looking to perform this function by building up the necessary infrastructure, connectivity, and security capabilities. 

Universal Training Simulator Platform: TSA has the need for a simulator platform with the capability to receive property/baggage scans, replicate the user interface and functionality of current and future state image generating screening systems, to include Explosive Detection Systems (EDS), Computed Tomography (CT), Advanced Technology (AT) and Automated Screening Lanes (ASL). The platform can be a software-only solution or a hardware/software combination.

In addition, TSA has the need for a simulator platform that can be updated or modified to align with changes in requirements of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), open architecture concepts with the ability to receive baggage scans in a common data format (i.e. DICOS), provide common interfaces (i.e. OPSL), and replicate the user interface and functionality to support a consistent experience for operators across screening systems and solution types as well as interoperability with future TSE.

The universal training simulator platforms should allow the creation of training libraries, simulate the running of baggage in randomized and pre-defined orders, enable operator decisions, and evaluate operator performance against a training set. The solution should provide data files that capture all metrics calculated and recorded by the technology, formatted for data analysis (e.g., fields and records written to file and separated by purposeful delimiter). Data files provided shall be accompanied by data dictionaries that explain the layout of each data file and define the fields and data values recorded within. There is also expected to be some exploration of the “art of the possible” with respect to training platforms to enable TSA to better define the future universal training simulator platform while aligning with common standards and interfaces defined by TSA. 

Vendor Identified Solution: If a Vendor’s solution addresses a significant challenge to TSA that does not fit in one of the three problem statements above, Vendors may submit a solution statement that falls within one of the five categories below. For any Vendor Identified Problem, Vendors should define the actual problem they are looking to solve and elaborate on their solution solving the specific problem. 

The five categories are:

Artificial Intelligence, Identity Management, Machine Learning, and Screening Automation: Solutions that inform passengers through the security journey; assist with divestment; speed entry to sterile areas by know persons; enable prohibitive item detection; advance dynamic screening; provide implementation of open architecture in the field; enable modular architecture to link field information systems for staffing, scheduling, forecasting as well as time and attendance.

Connectivity and Interoperability: Solutions that enable secure remote data transmission; enable the Security Technology Integrated Program (STIP) client; advance the use of common workstations across devices through display and image standardization; demonstrate CT screening for checkpoint and checked baggage in one unit for use at smaller airports; real-time field data collection from checkpoint and checked baggage; and provide remote screening of checked baggage from international locations.

Detection: Demonstrate devices that provide explosive detection through noniodizing radiation; engage countermeasures to explosive, chemical, or biological threats; clear on person threats seamlessly through the checkpoint continuously in an uninterrupted manner; detect prohibited items; lower false alarm rates; and improve detection. 

Improving the Passenger Experience: Push communication; seamless divestment; wait time notification; pre travel preparation communication; off premises checkpoint or checked baggage screening; and automatic identity screening for entry to the checkpoint. 

TSO and TSA Workforce Tools: Enable Threat Image Projection (TIP) in checked baggage and/or checkpoint to provide seamless training and TSO certification; hardware and/or software simulator solutions to address the image based training and testing needs of TSOs across all image producing technology platforms, including but not limited to Augmented Reality (AV) and Virtual Reality (VR) training tools; reduce physical load of TSOs through lift assist, automation and/or revised CONOPS; and incorporate advancements in remote screening and contactless or lighter touch screening for TSE to reduce cognitive load, prevent exposure to contagious pathogens, improve efficiency, and enhance TSO and passenger safety. 

To address any of the problem statements, Vendors must present solutions for demonstration that will enable rapid development and deployment of technical or non-material nature that will enable TSA to continuously improve operations and close capability gaps.

ITF was created to identify and demonstrate emerging security capabilities in the field. The focus is on capabilities that have a measurable impact on the transportation security ecosystem and are feasibly demonstrated in a live airport environment. Past ITF solutions have included automated screening lanes, computed tomography for accessible property security screening at the checkpoint, biometric identity verification capabilities, and integrated explosive trace detection tools.

Read the full announcement and requirements for submission at SAM.gov

Kylie Bielby
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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