Wednesday, October 10, 2007

T.S.A.: Shoes News

The long-awaited GE shoe-scanner got the boot yesterday from the Transportation Security Administration.

The machine was designed to allow members of the Clear version of the Registered Traveler program to pass through security without having to remove their shoes and put them on the belt.

Clear, which has opened lanes at 10 airports and is expanding, has about 68,000 members. They pay $99.95 a year for a biometric I.D. card and a special lane to expedite the checkpoint process. The shoe-scanner, developed by GE in a partnership with Clear, was the first in what Registered Traveler program operators envisioned as an assortment of new technology, including a machine that would allow laptops to remain in their cases.

Here's the text of the T.S.A. announcement on nixing the GE shoe-scanner:
"TSA and GE agreed in July on a series of specifications that needed to be met before a GE shoe scanner would be authorized for widespread use in U. S. airports. The specifications covered minimum requirements for explosives and weapons detection. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Transportation Security Laboratory, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have concluded the tests.

The results were as follows:

The shoe-scanning feature on the machine presented for testing on August 20 does not meet minimum detection standards. While significant improvements were made, (in fact a new machine was submitted) the shoe scanner still does not meet standards to ensure detection of explosives.

GE’s been apprised of these results and TSA and GE have agreed to continue working together. TSA and its partners at the laboratory stand ready to further test the GE shoe scanner feature upon completion of additional detection capability enhancements to meet the agreed upon security requirements.

The machine currently in use in Orlando does not meet minimum detection standards and several additional security measures are required by TSA to mitigate the shortfalls of the shoe scanner feature. Accordingly, the prototype shoe scanner used in Orlando will be discontinued, effective October 10. It had been hoped that an acceptable scanner would be available, but given that the lab prototype does not meet all standards, TSA will not authorize the shoe scanner feature for security purposes in any of the airports where it is currently deployed and awaiting use. The GE Kiosks may be used to read biometric cards associated with the Registered Traveler program but will not provide a security benefit."

For more information on Registered Traveler click here.


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