The pandemic is changing airport security forever
Illustration: Patty Alvarez
A few months into the pandemic, the world’s major airports urged industry providers to modernize the security lane. A new system from Leidos will lay the foundations starting this summer.
Why you should know: It may take years, but air travel will return to pre-pandemic volumes. When it does, there will be an urgent demand for futuristic checkpoint technology that minimizes waiting and touching that might spread disease.
Driving progress: A paper endorsed by travel authorities around the world called on the industry to adopt open architecture, an engineering concept that would make all security lane equipment more compatible. If all checkpoint tech is built on a foundation that’s openly available, innovation should quickly follow. Like:
- Facial recognition AI that scans your face as your boarding pass.
- Automatic tray return tunnels that sanitize trays between each use with ultraviolet light.
- Walkthrough body scanners that use visual recognition AI to give travelers more privacy and minimize pat-downs.
- New software that aggregates equipment data to predict outages and delays.
Looking ahead: Later this year, Leidos will move aggressively toward open architecture by installing a system called Mosaic™ into thousands of its body scanners, trace detectors, x-ray machines, and other products in airport security lanes around the world.
From the source: “Airports are tired of the cumbersome process of manually aggregating data from all their equipment to get a holistic view of their operation,” said Eric Monroe, the architect of Mosaic. “The first version of this system will do it automatically, giving airports better insight about their pre-departure security as a whole."
Zooming out: The aviation industry is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Some have speculated the second golden age of travel has come and gone. With scarce operational funding, airports will need equipment that's more automated and affordable. To help attract customers again, they'll need technology that minimizes virus transmission.