DfT to explore effects of systems integration on airport X-rays

Written by Sam Trendall on 29 August 2018 in News
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Government to examine whether the current mixed set-up of screening and tray-management systems is having an impact on security levels

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images

The Department for Transport is to review whether issues related to system integration could compromise the “security outcomes” of X-ray machines used to scan air passengers’ cabin baggage. 

The Crown Commercial Service has issued a contract notice looking for a firm to conduct a review of the impact of integrating X-ray machines with various automated systems for managing the return – or retention – of the trays into which travellers place their luggage and other possessions. 

“With the concern over the effects of trays on X-ray detection algorithm performance, and with third-party suppliers playing an active role in the presentation of TIP (threat image projection), these (tray-return system) products are now at the stage where there is the potential to effect security outcomes,” said the department’s statement of requirements. “A review of the effects of this integration is required with an outcome looking to both advise airports on what to look for when making a purchase as well as guidance on testing of particular areas.”


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The review should look at six key areas and provide recommendations on potential future actions to be taken. The first of these areas will relate to how best to judge regulatory compliance for so-called standard test pieces used to assess the functionality of X-ray machines. The second is focused on how images are tracked through systems, and ensuring that all are seen by a human operator.

The third area is ensuring that decisions taken by human operators are correctly implemented by automated tray-return systems (TRS), and the fourth relates to testing procedures for integrated systems. The penultimate focus area pertains to how automated data is validated. The final area will see the chosen supplier “examining and understanding discrepancies that arise between totals of bag count coming from the X-ray machine and that generated by TRS”.

The DfT is looking to appoint a provider to a nine-month contract, worth up to £96,000. Bids are open until 18 September, ahead of a proposed contract start date of 2 October.

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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