Unmanned airport security portals may be the wave of the future. The new pilot program currently being tested at two US airports is a radical departure in airport safety technology.
The system itself is a model of simplicity. A passenger departing from the terminal steps into an elevator-sized glass portal and waits while the cylinder rotates for them to exit. The purpose of this is to prevent people from entering the terminal from the public side of the airport.
Secure exits are normal at airports, but these are the first to be designed without the need for security personnel to be present at all times. Most airports have officers stationed at the exit gate to prevent re-entry by unauthorized persons.
Atlantic City Airport upgraded to their new five portal exit gate as part of their recent $25 million dollar renovation. Syracuse Airport in New York has also installed eight of the T.S.A. designed pods as part of their recent renovations.
Eliminating this security position is expected to save the airports hundreds of thousands of dollars with minimal impact on travelers. Affected employees will be re-assigned to other high security areas around the airport.
Some people are not happy with the change, but overall the transition has been painless. Questions abound regarding the full function and possible upgrades that may be added including theories and concerns about whether people inside are being scanned.
While it may be possible to equip portals with biometric scanners, officials assure the public that the current models are not capable of doing this.
South Jersey T.S.A. spokesman, Kevin Rehmann, addressed these questions quite simply
“We’re not scanning anything or doing anything really…When one side’s open, the other side’s closed. Period.”
Aviation security expert and professor at the Metropolitan University of Denver, Jeff Price, calls these rumors unwarranted:
“It doesn’t do anything to you. There’s no privacy intrusion. All it does is prevent a backflow of people…It’s not conducting a National Security Agency check or something.”
The five second process allows large groups to exit the terminal easily. Families may find it cumbersome because they cannot exit at the same moment, but overall most people will accept the change.
“It went smoothly,” said Robert Beech returning home to Syracuse, “Just had to wait for the doors to open and close. Even with carry-on, pull-behind bags, you can still get through there without having to worry about bumping into things.”
NBC reports the bulletproof pods may well be the next trend in airport security measures.