Centralised Image Processing: a case for remote image screening?

The increasing abilities and availability of technology are rapidly transforming the ways in which airports evaluate passengers and their baggage. Centralised Image Processing (CIP) has the potential to dramatically improve airport operations in terms of security, efficiency and passenger experience. However, the planning and implementation processes are critical to the success of any new operational procedures. Tom Hardiman and Andrew McClumpha impart their expertise and share the lessons they have learned.

Airports face ever demanding challenges to mitigate the continual threat to the civil aviation security system, whether this is landside, airside, or on-board the aircraft. Within this multifaceted challenge, airports must also deliver operational efficiencies, security effectiveness of the highest standards, a passenger experience that meets expectations, a financial return on investment, and all of this achieved within airport infrastructure limitations. For example, most airports do not have the luxury of being able to increase the size of their passenger search areas to meet increasing passenger numbers and ideally would like to make them smaller to increase retail space and revenue.

Furthermore, changing regulations and the uncertainty over future regulatory changes can make investment in checkpoint technology risky as it is difficult to predict its potential compliance and hence the return on investment. The demand on airports is unquestionably significant and there is clearly a persistent challenge to achieve an effective balance of these requirements within an ever-changing and evolving threat landscape. Oftentimes, the cry for security enhancements to support the proportionate mitigation of the threat will include the use of the term ‘revolutionary change’. However, all of the evidence would suggest that ‘evolutionary change’ is the approach of choice and has been the mark of demonstrable security enhancements within the civil aviation security environment.

Airports face very real challenges on what technologies to adopt and how to achieve their full operational benefits. When rolling-out new technology there is a real danger of miscalculating the benefits and not meeting the business case expectations. Getting the benefits case wrong is easy to do because benefits can be double counted, the true costs (capital and operating) can be misunderstood, and the airport is often reliant on the technology provider to articulate the potential opportunities. Delivering the expected operational benefits can also be tricky because they require the right combination of changes in technology, infrastructure, process, and people to be implemented at the same time; an evolutionary approach for effective integration that evidentially provides sustainable and beneficial operational solutions is required.

This article will discuss our recent work in exploring a more recently adopted security innovation to support checkpoint security screening – Centralised Image Processing (CIP) or Remote Image Screening (RIS). Over the previous couple of years we have been working with early adopter airports to assist in the implementation of new checkpoint technologies such as CIP and in this article we capture some important lessons learned from the experience of these projects.

What is Remote Image Screening/Centralised Image Processing?

Centralised Image Processing (CIP), also referred to Remote Image Screening (RIS) or Matrix Screening, is the networking of checkpoint X-ray screening systems to allow for the real-time management and transmission of X-ray images to location/s that are not necessarily co-located with the X-ray machine itself. The X-ray image processing and interpretation can occur in a remote location to the checkpoint screening area, where a security officer can review X-ray images from multiple checkpoint screening lanes; in a purpose built environment (remote operations facility), or co-located within the checkpoint screening area itself. A combination of these options is also possible.

What are the Potential Benefits of Remote Image Screening?