November 22, 2011
By David Bauerlein
Passengers can see same thing now as JIA scanners, but without revealing body images
Travelers passing through security scanners at Jacksonville International Airport can now view the same images that security scanners see — without blushing.
Instead of depicting grainy images with anatomical outlines of each passenger, the scanners show a generic outline of a person that looks like a gingerbread cookie.
Heading into the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period, officials said Monday the new technology should quicken the screening process and curb privacy concerns.
The number of seats on airplanes departing Jacksonville will be up about 2 percent compared to last year, according to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
The upgraded screening technology has been in place at the airport for about a month.
Jacksonville is among 80 airports nationwide using the technology in about 500 screeners. The federal government spent about $3 million nationally to install the computer software on existing machines.
Previously, the scanning machines saw through clothing by transmitting the image to another room where security staff examined the images but could not see the actual passenger.
In the new setup, the anatomy of the passenger isn’t captured on the screen, allowing the screen to be attached to the scanning machine itself.
The passenger and security worker can both see the image and exchange information about any objects that require further investigation, said Edward Goodwin, a Jacksonville-based federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration.
He said he expects the change will reduce the number of people who opt for a more time-consuming pat-down rather than go through the scanning machines.
Tampa resident Brian Blake, catching a Jacksonville flight back home, said he didn’t mind the previous process, so the new technology doesn’t make a difference to him.
He said he thinks people who disliked being scanned by technology will still be uncomfortable even though the image won’t show individual body shapes.
“The people who had reservations before are probably going to still have reservations,” he said.
Goodwin said travelers can take some steps to avoid security-related hassles.
He said if someone packs liquid, gel or aerosol in a carry-on bag, the bottle for each container cannot be larger than 3 ounces.
The bottle or bottles must be placed in a one-quart clear zip-top bag, and only one plastic bag of bottles is allowed per passenger.
Larger quantities of liquids can be put in checked bags, Goodwin said.
Goodwin said it’s better to leave gifts unwrapped while traveling because security screeners might have to unwrap them for inspection.