Technologies To Elevate Checkpoint Efficiency

The latest technologies can speed up the checkpoint screening process, reduce operational costs and also improve security standards. Here is a quick overview of some of the key developments.


Advancing automatic detection with AI

Advances in AI based algorithms have enabled real-time, automatic identification of a fast growing list of prohibited items ranging from weapons and ammunition to lithium batteries. By framing any suspect items, image analysts can make faster, more accurate decisions which increases both security levels and efficiency. 

These intelligent algorithms are also central to the current move towards further automation and alarm-only viewing at the passenger checkpoint. 


Alarm-only viewing 

Regulators are looking to automatically clear the vast majority of checkpoint security images and testing for EU ECAC APIDS Standards (Automatic Prohibited Items Detection Systems) certification is underway. There will be three Standards, each increasing in levels of detection; and decreasing in percentage of mandatory random alarms, allowing gradual progression in the direction of alarm-only viewing. 

Find out more about alarm only viewing here.


Express air cargo: remote screening across several sites

Air cargo screening operations are typically well suited to central image processing. Screening procedures are identical at all sites but peak times generally vary from location to location. At DHL Australia Express, several sites in major cities across the country have been networked to process images centrally at one location, optimising staff rostering and significantly increasing resource utilisation.

This solution meets regulatory and operational requirements in a very fast, high volume environment – including an excellent security outcome. 


CT scanning at the checkpoint set to become the norm

The gains in efficiency, security and passenger experience delivered by CT soon outweigh the initial capital outlay. CT technology makes it easier to discriminate between benign and suspect items and liquids, gels and large electronic items can be screened without removing them from hand luggage. It is also the only technology currently capable of meeting future standards (e.g. EDS CB C4).  

Regulators are keen to see the use of CT expanded around the world and it is likely to become the norm at major hubs over the next few years.

Find out more about CT X-ray at the checkpoint here.


Central image processing generates significant efficiencies 

Delivering images from across all security lanes to the first available analyst in a team located centrally and away from the checkpoint, offers many efficiency benefits. It creates the flexibility to optimise the ratio of operators to lanes and adjust resource deployment according to peaks and troughs of demand. Staff can be moved to different locations, another airport or even country or continent. 

The cost efficiencies are impressive – as high as cutting the number of analysts and subsequent daily costs by over 70 percent.


Innovations for automatic tray return systems 

Automatic tray return has been proven to speed up passenger flow and support staff redeployment -  resulting in increased throughput, cost reductions, shorter queues and happier passengers. When coupled with data analytics and reporting applications, it also delivers KPIs and valuable operational insights.

UV light sterilisation is another innovation. Trays are automatically sterilised as they pass through the system, killing viruses, removing the need for manually cleaning and reducing the risk of staff and passenger sickness.


Minimising delays and reducing costs: Unaccompanied Baggage Inspection (UBI) 

If passengers fail to board a flight, their checked bags no longer need to be unloaded from the aircraft. Using UBI, the original baggage screening images are automatically retrieved and sent to operator workstations for re-inspection (different operators this time). If cleared, the baggage can stay on board, preventing turnaround delays and supporting better on-time performance.

It saves airlines and airports the time and effort needed to find and unload bags; helps them keep to tight schedules; and avoids very costly delays on the tarmac with engines running.


A contactless future 

Contactless travel and pre-travel passenger profiling are definitely on the horizon; and pre-screening before entering the terminal is soon be adopted in some countries.

The UK is due to start testing contactless border crossing in 2024. New technologies will allow some passengers to enter the UK via automated border screening, without using an eGate or speaking to a UK Border Force officer. These types of initiatives will lead the way for other developments within very few years.


Risk-based screening is the future

Advances in AI and biometrics signal the end of a ‘one fits all’ approach to security screening and open the door to Risk-based screening (RBS). RBS uses facial recognition and passenger information such as destination, point of origin, ticketing, routing and travel behaviour to profile risk levels. Where needed, more stringent screening processes can be authorised. 

The EU-funded iBorderCtrl project is one example of RBS. Initially tested pre-pandemic and aimed at non-EU citizens crossing borders, it uses a two-stage procedure to assess applicants before they travel.


Aligning technology and legislation

Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, but legislation is generally a slower, more measured process. The introduction EU ECAC APIDS Standards is encouraging and shows legislators are happy to embrace new approaches. However, RBS is more controversial as it may contravene privacy laws in some countries. 

For example, the technology to match the passenger with the right boarding card and cabin baggage already exists but most countries are not quite ready for it yet. But make no mistake, RBS is on the way.