Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A more modest approach to airport screening has begun at BWI-Marshall. As Alex DeMetrick reports, the technology still looks through clothes, but doesn’t leave passengers exposed.
Traveling by air no longer means showing it all at BWI-Marshall. Full body scanners there have received an upgrade. The scan sees through clothes but only uses a generic outline.
“We’ve completely gotten rid of the image and replaced it with an icon that’s the same for every passenger,” said Kawika Riley, TSA spokesman.
The original scans were far more revealing, so much so that they were viewed away from the screening areas.
“The biggest improvement is for the customer because there was this privacy issue of someone in a back room seeing you disrobed. You might remember it led to something of a passenger revolt last Thanksgiving,” said Paul Wiedefeld, executive director of BWI-Marshall.
That protest asked passengers to opt out of screening and threatened to slow security during the holiday rush. Few travelers went along, but TSA got the message and new software was developed.
“Automated target recognition software,” Riley said.
Suspicious items show up as yellow shapes. A demonstration found things like cell phones. A hit also guarantees a pat down in areas highlighted by the scanner.
Travelers were asked if seeing more while showing less is a better way to fly.
“I feel it’s an improvement,” said a traveler at BWI airport.
“I’m sure you’ll get much fewer objections now,” another traveler said.
The new technology not only improves privacy, it’s more efficient.
“Instead of it going to a back room where an issue is detected and then radio-announcing it, it’s done right there, ” Wiedefeld said. “It’s done instantly.”
Leaving security and dignity intact.
Ten of the upgraded scanners went online Friday at BWI-Marshall.
Eventually, 230 other machines will receive the new software at 40 U.S. airports.