Millimeter Scanning at Airports: Is It Worth the Cost?
Millimeter waves produce a three dimensional image of persons passing through. In
What makes this millimeter wave airport security scanner unique is that is can detect things that metal detectors cannot. It can pick up on plastic explosives and ceramic weapons that might otherwise pass through standard security. It also eliminates the need for person to person searches. However, if people refuse to go through the scanner, they will then be allowed to go through a metal detector as well as submit to a physical pat down.
Beyond the concerns raised by some centering on privacy, it seems that at least as body scanners move into airports, security lines will move more slowly. Clothing and other organic materials are translucent in some extremely high frequency radio frequency bands. In addition, according to Farran Technologies, a manufacturer of one model of the millimeter wave scanner, the technology exists to extend the search area to as far as 50 meters beyond the scanning area which would allow security workers to scan a large number of people without their awareness that they are being scanned.
Another body scanning technology, backscatter, comes from American Science and Engineering. It just received a $2.9 million order from an existing Middle Eastern customer for multiple Z Backscatter Vans.
AS&E's Z Backscatter Van is a low-cost, highly mobile screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV allows for immediate deployment in response to security threats, and its high throughput capability facilitates rapid inspections. The system’s “drive-by” capability allows one or two operators to conduct X-ray imaging while the ZBV drives past suspect vehicles and objects. For personnel safety in dangerous environments, a remote console is available for operating the system in stationary mode from a distance of up to 500 meters.