DHS takes aim at making TSA technology acquisition easier
The Department of Homeland Security took to Capitol Hill this on January 18th, where much of the discussion involved an overhaul of the TSA acquisition process. In particular, it can be difficult for small business to have the latest, proven technologies acquired in a timely fashion to support the men and women that help protect our aviation industry.
The TSA is responsible for screening passengers and baggage at more than 450 U.S. airports. You’re sure to have recently had an experience at a TSA checkpoint or two over the last year and you likely agree that baggage screener accuracy – the ability to find contraband and items that can be used to cause harm – is extremely important. Today, much of the visual search and detection methodology happens “in the head” and is supported by a colorful x-ray image shown on a computer monitor. Screeners look for a variety of threats which are often hidden and disguised, requiring extensive thought before classifying any 2D object on the monitor as a threat.
Under the government’s SBIR program, Design Interactive has developed a more effective training platform – ScreenADAPT®. Until now, the agents’ training performance was considered a matter of hits or misses. They either acted on a threat, or did not. However, there is so much information to be taken from in-action, if you have the right tools. ScreenADAPT® is that tool with a visual search training platform that uses eye tracking technology to examine visual search performance in real time. ScreenADAPT® not only knows if they found a threat or not, but also where they look and how they search. We now know if they saw a threat even if they didn’t act on it. This knowledge is of high value. Imagine if an agent continually sees the same threat (e.g., a small knife) over and over but never acts upon it, yet is able to find bottles of water or screwdrivers with no issue. ScreenADAPT® can diagnose the root cause of a performance challenge and create training content to address it in real time. The result? More effective and efficient PERSONALIZED training.
In fact, ScreenADAPT® systems are already in use at several airports and in TSA Training. In a recent study, 35 TSOs received training using ScreenADAPT®, and as a result detected 242 additional threats over a three month period following the training. That is an operational performance increase of seven extra threats per screener in just a three month period. Extrapolated across a 45,000 screener workforce, would equal 315,000 extra threats detected per quarter, or 1,260,000 additional threats detected annually, kept off the aircraft.
Last month at the TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony, the TSA Portland International Airport (PDX) ScreenADAPT® Team received the award for “Technology Achievement”. This team has been at the forefront of ScreenADAPT® development, and integration. ScreenADAPT® X-ray screening training can also be used for other Federal, State, and Local law enforcement (such as government building package inspection and Customs and Border Protection agricultural screening), mail inspection, and consumer packaging inspections.
The challenge of acquisition remains. The impact of ScreenADAPT® is clear. Performance of the TSA improves significantly and threats are kept off the plane. The technology has been available for years and Design Interactive, a small business out of Orlando, wants to provide the solution to the TSA.
Hopefully DHS’s day on the Hill will result in a more efficient acquisition process so ScreenADAPT® can begin helping all TSA agents at all airports in 2018.
Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions and create biosignatures of human emotion, cognition and physical state that empower consumers. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.