February 14, 2010

Body scanner trial at Bangkok airport

Bangkok Post: 26 Jan 2010 SUVARNABHUMI
Body scanner goes on trial run at airport

Airports of Thailand is testing a full-body scanner at Suvarnabhumi airport for a month in an effort to boost security in line with other major gateways around the world.

Airport deputy director Narongchai Thanadchangsaeng yesterday said the use of the microwave imaging equipment, known as the Brijot Gen 2, would be limited during the test run and then only on a "voluntary" basis.

The scanner was installed at the airport's departure lounge yesterday.

Mr Narongchai said all passengers would undergo the usual screening with metal detectors and X-ray machines first.

Only passengers who are suspected of having concealed objects on their bodies would be asked to choose between a pat-down screening by security staff or a "virtual pat-down" by the scanner, he said.

Mr Narongchai said the full-body scanner was said to shorten passenger screening time by 75%.

The process takes about five seconds using the equipment, compared to 20 seconds using the present systems.

The AoT will decide after a month of testing whether to invest in the Gen 2 scanners which cost 5 million baht each, he said.

"There are four factors to consider: if it is time-saving; if its detection is precise; what impact it will have on the passengers; and whether it is cost-effective," he said.

Techit Tiwaruangrong, managing director of the Brijot Gen 2 supplier, Law Enforcement Technology Solutions, said the equipment could deal with several problems of screening.

It can locate and identify hidden objects in real time and thus reduce bottlenecks at passenger screening checkpoints. It can also tackle personal privacy violations involved in pat-downs.

"Passengers, especially women, can feel threatened if they have to undergo a pat-down. But Gen 2 can clearly identify and locate hidden objects [from a distance]," he said.

Mr Techit said the technology was "passive", meaning it did not give "clear" anatomical details of the passengers.


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