TSA using ‘green ghost’ technology to thwart suicide bombers
Are you ever concerned about a possible terror attack on a train?
The Transportation Security Administration is, which is why they’re working with two companies that are developing technology that can help detect whether someone is wearing a concealed improvised explosive device, like a suicide vest.
According to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, the explosive-detection units being tested are passive types of detection systems, which means “individuals who are coming through the mass transit environment do not have to stop like you do at an airport checkpoint and go through one at a time, perhaps taking off a belt or removing something from a backpack.”
She explained that as people walk past the explosive-detection device, “it triggers an alarm on a laptop if an individual who is carrying or wearing a personal IED might pass by the mechanism.”
“It really lends itself to the mass transit environment because it doesn’t slow down the people who are trying to catch their trains.”
Farbstein said one of the units being tested “shows what I would call a green ghost of an individual, and if there is an anomaly, then there is a dark black image that appears on the green ghost.”
“On the other model being tested, there is a vertical bar that is green and that will turn red if there is an anomaly that the unit detects.”
She stressed when you walk by one of these detection units, “there are no anatomical details of a person that are displayed at all.”
The units are set up in areas where passengers are funneled together.
“A good example would be an entrance to a station where people have to go through that area," she said.
In larger train stations, where there may be multiple entrances, the unit is small and portable so it can be moved to different locations easily without causing a stir.
“This has been tested in New Jersey before with New Jersey Transit and we do expect we will be back in New Jersey later this year as well.”
Farbstein said this kind of technology is important because we know “this is something that those who want to cause harm are looking to do. You see that now here; we obviously see that abroad as well .”
“The whole goal here is to make sure that passengers get to their destinations safely, and just as important, that they get home safely.”
She explained TSA is not purchasing the equipment, it is merely helping with testing the different units so they can be fine-tuned. Then transit agencies would make their own decisions about purchasing and locating the units within their own systems.
TSA has partnered with Amtrak this week to test explosive detection units at New York Penn Station.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com