There's an open secret being discussed among security professionals in the airport industry: when it comes to scanning bags for modern dangers, like laptop bombs and liquid explosives, X-ray machines are no longer sufficient. "They cannot work well against these more sophisticated threats," explains Joseph Paresi, CEO of Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS). "Terrorists are very smart; they've got copies of X-ray scanners and have found ways to beat them. And that is driving the need for new computed tomography [CT] scanning techniques."
IDSS has answered this call with the DETECT 1000, a CT scanner that not only scans for threats in a much higher resolution than previous systems - down to the dimensions of a grain of sand - but also automates the process. By using multislice CT, the system incorporates a 3D view of the bag in its image, eliminating the ambiguity that arises from a twodimensional X-ray view. "I have a little bit of a pet peeve in going to airports and waiting in line, knowing that operators who are looking at X-ray images would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time trying to find a bomb in the thousands of bags that they're looking at," says Paresi. "At one point, I just said to myself 'I know how to fix this, so I'm going to start a company to do that.' And that was the genesis of IDSS."
Founded in 2012, the company wasn't Paresi's first outing in the airport security space. As president of L3 Security and Detection Systems, he has played a leading role in the development and spread of CT airport security scanning technology. Now with IDSS, he is eager to introduce airports around the world to its next iteration - one that eliminates the need for a human operator to manually verify the presence of an explosive or prohibited item in a bag via a scan. "We don't need the operator to make a decision about whether or not an explosive is present," says Paresi. "We're telling them where there is an explosive."
This surety arises from a patented orthogonal measurement method, wherein the DETECT 1000 measures the dual energy content of each slice of the scan, or 'voxel', as Paresi refers to them. "For instance, things like shampoo and toothpaste might be in the same density range as a real explosive," he explains. "But by having a secondary discriminator in dualenergy, we're able to isolate those two and have the system say, 'Now, that's a real threat', as opposed to a benign object."
Such a system is an invaluable asset as the terrorist threat to airlines becomes more sophisticated. Bombs can now be concealed in laptops and most countries still forbid the carrying of liquids bought before passing through security. Then, there's the capacity issue.
"Aviation is continually growing," says Paresi. "The implementation of CT security scanning is not only a matter of safety, but passenger convenience. There is a real need to increase throughput capability and one way to do this is through automating the functionality."
The DETECT 1000 is already operational at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, and trials of the system are continuing in Boston Logan International Airport as well as Changi International Airport in Singapore. Tests have been conducted in Japan, France and the UK, with more planned in Europe and the Middle East.
"I think there will certainly be passenger appreciation that airports operating with the latest technology provide greater security," says Paresi. "The chances of a bomb actually getting through security and onto an aircraft have been significantly reduced. The technology becomes a strong deterrent."