Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week issued a draft solicitation for the development of software algorithms that can be used in the agency’s cargo and passenger vehicle scanning systems to aid operators in image analysis and eventually to automate the process.

The agency plans to host a competition for the Anomaly Detection Algorithms (ADA) solutions via the Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot, which is managed outside the traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation to speed the bid and award process and show preference for contractors to retain core intellectual property.

CBP is in the early states of significantly expanding its deployment of non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems at land ports of entry, mainly along the southern border with Mexico. The latest NII systems include low- and multi-energy portals being deployed in pre-primary inspection lanes for passenger-occupied and commercial-occupied vehicles respectively to allow scanning to occur without requiring occupants to exit the vehicle.

The new portals will enable a dramatic boost in the number of vehicles being scanned for potential threats and contraband.

The ADA solutions must work across the NII systems, regardless of vendor.

“CBP’s goal for ADA solutions is an incrementally implemented platform for computer-assisted analysis of NII images and other data that will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of NII operations,” says the draft solicitation. “The desired end state is an open-source platform that supports autonomous NII image analysis, thus it is critical that all algorithms can be integrated easily into the larger NII platform and not solely be integrated into closed proprietary applications/systems.”

The operator-assist and eventual automation of NII operations enabled by the ADA is aimed at making the image analysis more thorough and faster, which will increase throughput, a key issue for CBP officials as they begin to electronically scan more cargo and vehicles.

CBP also says that that the ADA won’t eliminate its reviews of images obtained by NII systems but will better allow it to focus on high-risk shipments and high-risk areas of interest.

The period of performance for any ADA contracts will be a base-year with four one-year options.