Two years after committing to the pursuit of greater interoperability and competition within the aviation security screening technology space, airport representatives and security agencies last week said they are continuing toward the path of open architecture, essentially sending a message to security detection equipment manufacturers to get on board.

“Technology and innovation within transportation security is evolving at a rapid pace, and open architecture promises to improve how all transportation security agencies share data, integrate emerging technology at speed, remain cyber resilient and advance our mission,” David Pekoske, administrator of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, said in a statement last Friday. “We remain committed to innovation and working collaboratively with our partners to increase the security baseline and improve the traveling experience.”

TSA, the Airports Council International Europe, the European Organization for Security and airport authorities on July 8 said they are working to update the Open Architecture for Security Systems initiative, published in July 2020, and that they have been working together and with equipment manufacturers on technical recommendations and protecting intellectual property. Screening equipment manufacturers have been reluctant to move beyond developing and selling systems with proprietary interfaces, which makes it nearly impossible for third party vendors to provide new capabilities that further enhance a specific screening technology.

The July 8 statement by TSA and its partners said they are “actively working to implement open architecture principles into the security screening system, focusing on open data formats such as Digital Imaging and Communications in Security (DICOS), standardized interfaces, and establishing an operationally viable and cyber-secure approach to accessible property screening, on-person screening and identity verification.”

The DICOS is an imaging standard for computed tomography (CT)-based systems, which increasingly being used to screen carry-on bags at airports. However, not all CT makers use the standard.

Recently, though, there are new efforts to begin demonstrating open architectures and the benefits they can bring.

In late June, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, working with checkpoint CT manufacturer Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS), successfully demonstrated the ability to conduct remote screening of images taken by IDSS’ DETECT 1000 system at Cape Cod Gateway Airport in Hyannis, Mass. Using massive multiplexing software developed by The Chertoff Group and IDSS, and that takes advantage of DICOS, the remote screening was done more than 100 miles away.

Remote screening can allow TSA to better optimize its workflows, save on manpower, and develop image interpretation specialists that are housed in one or more locations nationwide to examine checkpoint CT images from any U.S. airport.

“The adoption of open architecture standards will enhance aviation security and collaboration among global partners,” Lee Kair, a principal with The Chertoff Group and former assistant administrator for TSA Security Operations and head of contracting at the agency, told Defense Daily last Friday. “It is crucial to advance the capability for remote baggage screening and algorithm development for automated detection of prohibited items. These open standards, particularly use of DICOS, will mitigate the risk of vendor lock and system interoperability in future procurements for security technology.”

Kair previously told Defense Daily that any checkpoint CT system using DICOS could benefit from the massive multiplexing system.

Meanwhile, Pangiam, which has developed open architecture solutions for aviation security, will be demonstrating for TSA its artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithm for detecting prohibited items in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints. The company is also demonstrating the technology at an airport in the United Kingdom aboard a DETECT 1000 system to look for guns while the IDSS checkpoint CT system is used to detect explosives.