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TSA unveils new checkpoint at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport

The TSA and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport have unveiled the Innovation Checkpoint, a collaborative effort between TSA’s Innovation Task Force and the airport that allows for side-by-side testing and evaluation of emerging security technologies in a live checkpoint environment, the first and only one of its kind nationwide.

Data collected from these demonstrations will help develop requirements for future innovative capabilities that will enhance TSA’s security effectiveness and improve the passenger experience.

Austin Gould, TSA Assistant Administrator for Requirements and Capabilities Analysis, said: “The Innovation Checkpoint at McCarran International Airport is an exciting initiative that provides TSA with the unique opportunity to demonstrate multiple solutions and capabilities by various vendors in one physical environment without interrupting current airport operations. Our long-term vision is that this checkpoint will serve as an innovative sandbox for the entire agency to demonstrate new strategies and solutions that will ultimately increase security effectiveness, heighten the passenger experience, and deliver enhanced capabilities to our frontline personnel.”

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Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County Director of Aviation, said: “Las Vegas is a world-renown destination, and McCarran International Airport is an integral part of the visitor experience. As the first and last look at Las Vegas for millions of visitors every year, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of advancements within the travel industry. The lessons to be learned in the Innovation Checkpoint will result in an improved passenger experience across the nation. Aviation security practices will be elevated here first. But what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.

Technologies that are being evaluated in the Innovation Checkpoint span all aspects of the traveller security-screening experience. The checkpoint currently has four fully-equipped screening lanes.

Travellers can expect to see new digital signage as they enter the Innovation Checkpoint. The display towers allow TSA to digitally convey important travel information and reminders such as screening procedures and estimated wait times. Digital signage also enables TSA to quickly modify the information based on real-time events in the security checkpoint.

The Credential Authentication Technology unit scans a passenger’s photo identification to verify the authenticity of the document. The system uses information from the photo identification to confirm a passenger’s flight status by cross-referencing it against the Secure Flight database, all without needing to present a boarding pass.

Computed Tomography scanners screen passengers’ carry-on luggage. The CT technology applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives and other threats to commercial aviation by creating a 3D image, which can be rotated on three axes for a thorough visual image analysis by a TSA X-Ray operator.

An enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology body scanner, which uses millimetre wave technology, is in place to screen travellers. The open design, flat panel unit allows travellers to have a more relaxed stance with arms at the side during the scan instead of over the head. Also, the TSA officer receives an on-screen prompt if the traveller is improperly positioned during the scan. The unique and open design of the eAIT allows travellers in wheelchairs to access the sterile area of the checkpoint without having to pass through an American with Disabilities Act-compliant gate.

TSA screened the first passengers through the Innovation Checkpoint in early June 2019 and subsequently has continued to install additional equipment and add new features.

United Airlines has been an active partner in the project. Once the Innovation Checkpoint became operational, many of the airlines’ customers departing LAS were screened through the Innovation Checkpoint. The airline has also assisted in the collection of feedback on its customer’s security experience.

The Innovation Checkpoint at McCarran will continue to serve as the greenspace for the entire agency to pilot and gather data on new strategies that will ultimately increase security effectiveness, enhance the passenger experience and improve the TSA officer workplace.