The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced legislation that implies increased sensor deployment. The Airport Screener Technology Improvement Act of 2005 was introduced in light of recent reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General. Both the Inspector General and the Transportation Security Administration indicated that a significant improvement in screener performance may not be possible without an increased effort to install new screening technologies.
Last year, the 9/11 Commission specifically recommended that the Transportation Security Administration and Congress "give priority attention to improving the ability of screeners at checkpoints to detect explosives on passengers." The resulting Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (P.L. 108-458) authorized $250 million for the research and deployment of advanced passenger screening technologies. To date, however, only about $30 million has been appropriated specifically for the deployment of these technologies.
The Airport Screener Technology Improvement Act dedicates $650 million currently collected in airport security fees to the Aviation Security Capital Fund for the installation of inline screening systems for checked bags, and creates a Checkpoint Screening Security Fund to provide the $250 million already authorized for the deployment of new passenger screening equipment at security checkpoints.
Dr. Edward J. Staples, CEO of Electronic Sensor Technology, Inc. (EST, www.znose.com), recently appeared for a series of special presentations before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and members of Congress to showcase the abilities of EST's zNose technology to rapidly detect and identify explosive and chemical threats in the U.S. capitol building, D.C. Metro subway, and commercial aircraft. For more details see www.znose.com/znosedc.pdf.
The demonstrations highlighted how the zNose can monitor air in real time, establishing a baseline scan for "normal" conditions and detecting and identifying in seconds dangerous or suspicious chemical vapors in concentrations as low as one part per trillion. The company says that zNose can adapt and recognize chemical profiles associated with terrorist threats, while fixed detector systems cannot. When incorporated into an integrated security solution, the zNose could be used to automatically trigger an instantaneous threat response that shuts down and isolates ventilation systems curtailing the spread of biological and chemical agents and severely limiting the areas of contamination.
Staples was joined by Jan Kaplan, president and CEO of eScreen Sensor Solutions, Inc., in discussing the use of zNose for other homeland security vulnerabilities in personnel and cargo screening.
Electronic Sensor Technology, incidentally, recently appointed former Northrop Grumman TASC president James H. Frey to the position of chairman of its board of directors. Frey aims to accelerate the adoption of zNose, which has just received CE and CSA approval for sale in Europe and Canada.