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TSA testing x-ray training system that tracks eye movements during searches

A new x-ray image analysis training system that tracks the eye movements of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers as they conduct visual searches of travelers is currently being tested at airports across Oregon.

Known as ScreenADAPT, the technology is being developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the TSA. The training program was initially tested at Portland International Airport, a designated research airport.

‘The goal with ScreenADAPT was to develop training methods and tools, through technology innovation, that would be relevant, challenging, intuitive and engaging to enhance transportation security officer (TSO) visual search skills,” Darren Wilson, the S&T Directorate program manager, said. “The result is an advanced X-ray image analysis training system that allows TSA to better analyze and understand TSOs visual search effectiveness and efficiency.”

The X-ray image analysis resulted in TSOs identifying threats and clearing bags faster, Wilson added, “they were able to make faster decisions with more confidence and fewer false alarms.”

James Wesolowski, supervisory TSO at Portland International Airport, said simulated X-ray images used in ScreenADAPT are clearer than in previous training programs. Additionally, coaches or supervisors are able to review training sessions with officers immediately after completion.

“The ability for ScreenADAPT to tailor to threats the officer is missing most, allows that officer to build a larger image library in their mind,” Wesolowski said. “Threat items become easier for the officers to identify, increasing their detection rate. Having a bigger mental image library adds to the confidence of the officer.”

Aaron Martin

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