Homeland Security

Innovations to Prevent Bomb Blasts: Trust Based Security
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 29 Dec , 2017

WeCU’s technology can easily be incorporated into existing airport processes, such as the stand-up computers found at fast bag drop and check-in stations. Built into the screen is a cheap but highly sensitive thermal imaging sensor, which can measure data including the temperature of the subject’s skin, heart rate, perspiration, blood pressure and changes in breathing, as well as other variables – 14 in all – most of which, are classified. When the passenger begins to use the station, all these readings are taken almost instantly in order to establish a ‘biological baseline’.

Suicide terrorists aren’t scared of dying, ‘but they are scared of being caught. That is the key…

Then, over the course of the next 30 seconds, the machine will expose the subject to a stimulus that would cause a response in someone involved with terrorism, but not anyone else.

‘The point is, the person who knows about terrorism will react, and the sensor will measure that reaction. It won’t pick out the person who’s stressed about flying, or the guy who’s worried about a tax bill. But it will pick out the traveler who seems to know about terror – in about 35 seconds flat. You don’t have to arrest that person, merely move on to further checks. And by the way, the more you try to train yourself not to react to the stimulus, the more clearly you will stand out.’

Tests show We CU’s system has a low ‘false positive’ rate, and will typically identify just one or two per cent of travelers as possible suspects. But even they need only move to the next automated layer -another hi-tech method devised by SDS, Suspect Detection Systems.

Already installed at one of Israel’s land border crossings, SDS’s airport machine is essentially an automatic polygraph. It consists of a booth in which the passenger sits, wearing headphones and responds to questions that are both spoken and appear on a screen. Sensors record data ranging from the skin’s electrical conductivity to movement, both from the eyes and from the subject’s left hand, which rests in a special cradle.

‘Take the case of the Detroit bomber, Abdulmutallab, ‘the security officers where he boarded, Schipol in Amsterdam, could see he stood out: he had a one-way ticket and no luggage. But his underpants bomb didn’t show up on their scanners, and they had no way of knowing whether he had hostile intent – hence no legal means to stop him getting on the plane. This system gives you that capability.’

The subject facing automatic interrogation doesn’t even have to answer the machine’s yes/no questions in order to record a response, and some of those questions will be very basic: ‘Are you involved in terrorist activity?’ or, ‘Are you carrying explosives?’ ‘Suicide terrorists aren’t scared of dying, ‘but they are scared of being caught. That is the key.

There are versions that can be fitted to security gateways to detect explosives hidden in clothing and shoes without any need to remove them…

As with the WeCU system, SDS’s detector depends on the fact that physical responses to such questions, aggregated and analyzed by a computerized algorithm, are involuntary. Most subjects will be cleared within one minute.

A small minority will face more questions lasting a further five to seven minutes, following which the machine will decide whether they should be cleared or be interrogated by humans. The booths also record passport and other ID information, which can be stored.

This new system called “Trust Based Security” (TBS). The most secret element is a new software platform that allows airports or other institutions to communicate directly with intelligence or police agency computers around the world in real time.

Intelligence/Information Sharing: ‘Nine years after 9/11 there’s still no way to do real-time information sharing, despite the fact that much was known about the 9/11 hijackers before the attacks, but not shared with the people who could have stopped them at the airports where they boarded. TBS system is very fast and cannot be attacked!

Privacy & Passengers: The world over, anger over body scanners and intimate, genital searches for those who decline to pass through them has led to calls for ethnic profiling. But the automated Israeli method isn’t profiling: it homes in on individuals, not ethnic or religious groups.

SDS also makes a portable version that fits in a briefcase, which is already in use by the Israeli army. That could be used by British soldiers trying to separate friend from foe in villages in Helmand. It would also be applicable for prison visits, to stop the smuggling of drugs or mobile phones.

Even a big cargo pallet – such as that used by Al Qaeda to smuggle the ‘toner bomb’ from Yemen to East Midlands – can be analyzed in just 30 seconds.

Other elements in TBS are equally innovative. At Sahar International in the palm-fringed beach town of Herzliya, is what is called ‘trace detection’, machines that can detect particles of explosive in sealed bags of all types, ranging in size from hand luggage to cargo containers. They can be fitted to existing security lines, and are so effective, that they abolish the need to take out laptops or other items once and for all. There are versions that can be fitted to security gateways to detect explosives hidden in clothing and shoes without any need to remove them: this technology will speed up airport security at the same time as making it safer.

They can detect amounts as small as half a microgram (one millionth of a gram) of any known explosive, ‘To give you a comparison: a single fingerprint smear weighs 50-100 micrograms. The first machines took eight seconds to produce an analysis, now the analysis gets done at the same time as the bag passes through the machine.’ The best part is that this system does not work against existing samples only BUT detonates particles, thereby establishing explosive content, regardless of the composition, therefore enabling the detection of Improvised Explosives too!!

Even a big cargo pallet – such as that used by Al Qaeda to smuggle the ‘toner bomb’ from Yemen to East Midlands – can be analyzed in just 30 seconds. Needless to say, it could also be deployed at other vulnerable targets, such as cinemas, stations or shopping malls.

TBS also embraces the inner circle of security, enabling airports to find and locate a passenger or worker who suddenly gives cause for concern very quickly. Sahar has developed RFID, radio-frequency identification – wafer-thin, throwaway-cheap and almost unnoticeable computer chips that can be built into every boarding pass, staff badge and baggage tag. They will respond immediately to sensors;, which can be built invisibly into every doorway, into floors or at intervals along hallways and corridors, so giving operators an instant read on a person’s location. This further develops into a n effective tracking devise when tags are allocated to each person, tractor, trolley and so forth thus enabling security staff to follow the entire process within the airport. When combined with analytics it makes the job even easier and fool proof.

Video cells: meanwhile, yet another technology, Video cells, has been piloting a way to network dozens, even hundreds of small CCTV cameras via the internet. Each camera costs just £200 and includes a 3G modem. Through this airport security agents could see what had happened in a particular place within seconds.

With the body scanners and other such gadgets, the U.S. is now spending $10 per passenger on security.

Video cells’ network can also be linked to RFID, so that once a person or a bag under suspicion had been located, it would be possible to bring up its image almost instantaneously.

Most of these systems can be introduced quickly, with minimal disruption, merely by adapting existing machines and processes.


Having gone through tremors caused by the recent breaches of security the TSA  in the USA  are now actively looking for a change to ensure proper security and Trust Based Security  as being followed at Ben Gurion it would appear is the right answer. UK is looking at this with keen interest , they perhaps would like this in place before the Olympics!

Economics & Efficacy: ‘With the body scanners and other such gadgets, the U.S. is now spending $10 per passenger on security. They’re only charging $4-5 through tax, they can save in the order of $25 billion a year and in so doing have a better , more efficient and safer system too. Such a system is being positioned on a BOT method , thus saving the government huge costs.

‘The savings in India would be even greater. And not only would everyone be safer, flying would be much less miserable. The industry has lost a lot of passengers because the security has become so onerous, the lines so long. With new technologies, those passengers can start to come back.’

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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Brig Pradeep Sharma

a regularly contributes defence related columns to news dailies.

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