Airport security enters new phase

The Transportation Security Administration today started the second phase of its program to use new technology to control access to secure areas of airports.

Rear Adm. David M. Stone, assistant secretary of homeland security for TSA, announced that the agency will upgrade technology at airports in five cities: Boston, Denver, New York, Orlando, Fla., and Salt Lake City.

The Airport Access Control Pilot Program is designed to "try new and emerging technologies to prevent unauthorized personnel and vehicles from entering secure areas of airports," said Deirdre O'Sullivan, a TSA spokeswoman.

The upgrades will start in June and field tests will continue through the summer. Each airport will test different technologies, O'Sullivan said.

Logan International Airport in Boston will test a new system to detect intrusions by water.

Denver International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City will install advanced video surveillance cameras in cargo warehouses. They will also require authorized personnel to scan their fingerprints on a biometric reader.

The two airports will also try different technologies. Denver will use ultrasonic emitters and microwave sensors to pinpoint the location of each item in its warehouse, including any intruders, O'Sullivan said. JFK will require all people who access the warehouse to carry a personal card with a radio-frequency identification.

Orlando International Airport will install iris-scan readers to permit only authorized vehicles to enter secure areas.

The Salt Lake City Department of Airports will protect its baggage handling area by installing readers that measure the unique geometry of a person’s hand. It will also put in a motion-tracking video system to keep unauthorized people from entering the area.

This is the second phase of the access-control program, O'Sullivan said. The first phase started at 10 airports in October 2003 and tried different technologies at each airport.

The program ultimately will expand to 20 airports, O'Sullivan said. No date has been set yet for starting the third phase, she said.

The program also uses more than just technology to improve security at the airports. For example, TSA officials said that the agency has run clam diggers working in the waters around Boston through security checks. Those that pass will be given voice-activated cell phones to report anything suspicious.


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