L-3’s problems in France and Germany and the EU’s ban of Rapiscan’s backscatter machine highlight a complaint all AIT manufacturers share: each country has different regulatory requirements that a machine must meet before it can be purchased and deployed at a checkpoint. The industry has formed the Security Manufacturers Coalition (SMC) to try to address the problem.
Despite being “fierce competitors,” says the coalition’s director, T.J. Schulz, the group’s member companies have joined forces to lobby the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on issues of common concern. Coalition partners—including L-3, Safran Morpho, and Rapiscan—want DHS to provide multiyear budget plans, discuss potential threat vectors, and improve its acquisition process so that manufacturers will know what technologies the department is interested in for future deployment and what requirements they will need to meet to gain approval. With that knowledge, says Schulz, coalition partners can make intelligent decisions about what contracts to compete on and where to invest scarce research and development dollars.
The SMC would also like to see U.S. leadership on the harmonization of international technical standards and regulations. The recent EU decision to ban backscatter technology underscores this need. “Opening up formal communication and exchange of information among the key international regulators will help reduce differences and lead to an integrated approach for screening,” an SMC policy paper notes.
Dunlap agrees that a lack of shared standards across countries makes it incredibly burdensome on AIT manufacturers. “It makes the process of figuring out what the next generation of equipment is even more difficult because you have to create a machine and then you have to certify it across varying regulatory regimes,” he says.
Though EU countries have been known to fiercely guard their independence and to set their own policies—as they have on data privacy—Frain is optimistic that regulatory harmonization could occur with checkpoints within five years.