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"TSA tests airport check-in system"
Sunday, April 15, 2012
TSA tests airport check-in system
By Bart Jansen
Airport check-ins for passengers are heading for higher technological
The Transportation Security Administration is testing a system that checks
identification and boarding passes by machine rather than the standard
visual check by officers.
The tests began last week at Washington-Dulles International Airport and
will start Tuesday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and
April 23 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The review will last several months,
gauging such things as how fast passengers move through the line and how
accurate the machines are.
While TSA officers have been checking identification with black lights and
magnifying glasses, the machines are geared to recognize all valid
identification, ranging from driver's licenses to tribal IDs and U.S. and
TSA hopes the machines will do a more efficient job weeding out fraudulent
documents and getting passengers to their planes.
"For efficiency, it is fantastic," says Domenic Bianchini, TSA director of
checkpoint technology. "We think it's a valuable technology, and we think
over time we will see the real value added."
As demonstrated at Dulles, passengers step up to the TSA desk and scan the
bar codes of their boarding passes, like a can of soup at the self-checkout
at a grocery store. The TSA officer scans the identification, which the
machine authenticates and compares with the boarding pass.
The machine doesn't store any personal information about the passenger, says
Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman.
A discrepancy can lead to more questions or checking the identification more
closely. When a TSA officer had a question last week about the
identification of a bespectacled man in khakis and a dark blazer, she
scrutinized the driver's license under a magnifying glass and then asked a
few more questions before sending the passenger on his way.
If a fraudulent document is found, the passenger is referred to
law-enforcement officials for possible charges.
The first 30 machines cost $3.2 million, Soule says. Three companies - BAE
Systems Information Solutions, Trans Digital Technologies and NCR Government
Systems - provided the initial machines that were customized for TSA.
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