OpinionMeister

Friday, June 24, 2005

New Israeli Screen for Terrorists

The World Tribune reports on a new screening technology developed in Israel. Link.
The passenger places his passport on a scanner and the other hand on a sensor. He is then asked to answer written questions indicated by the passport while a special detector measures physiological responses.

Executives said the SDS-VR-1000 system, meant to replace human selectors, was based on the expertise of former officials from the Mossad and Israel Security Agency. [...]

"What this does is collect objective data out of the passenger's ID — and it analyzes the data compared to the subjective data it collects while the passenger is asked different questions," Shoval said. "The process takes about three minutes, and the passenger either receives a transfer printout authorizing him to advance to the next stage of entry to the country, or an announcement that he is required for further questioning. A monitoring official will then escort the passenger to another area for further questioning."

Executives said that in trials the SDS-VR-1000 achieved a success rate of 95 percent. They said Israeli authorities have approved the system and would undergo testing later in 2005 in Israel at an unidentified U.S. airport.

With very good reason, Israel for years has been in the forefront in developing technology to screen passengers for terrorists. I am reminded of two other articles I read that fit together very well with this one. One quoted an Israeli security expert who commented that at US airports they look for bombs or other weapons. At Israeli airports, they look for terrorists.

The other told of another screening technology that is already in use. It is not automated, but rather assists human screeners by identifying when a person is lying, based on a profile of his voice. I imagine that passengers flagged by the new SDS-VR-1000 will then be questioned by human screeners using this "older" technology (the quotes are because this is only older by a few years).

I would recommend that, not only should TSB buy both technologies for all international airports in the US, but in addition the Custom Service should buy the one that is used by human screeners. Today, Customs agents ask mobs of people a few questions and make a quick call on such factors as whether they see perspiration on the passengers lip.

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