NEWS

DHS Working on Anxiety Detection Screener

By Matthew Harwood

Although in its infancy, the next generation of passenger screening technology being developed by the Department of Homeland Security detects travelers' anxiety levels.

USA Today's Thomas Frank reports:

It may seem Orwellian, but on Thursday, the Homeland Security Department showed off an early version of physiological screeners that could spot terrorists. The department's research division is years from using the machines in an airport or an office building— if they even work at all. But officials believe the idea could transform security by doing a bio scan to spot dangerous people.

The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) works much like a polygraph test, looking for sharp elevations in body temperature, pulse, and breathing rate as passengers file past video cameras with scanning technology.

Critics, however, doubt FAST will be implemented since it subjects travelers to "the intrusion of a medical exam."

During an interview with FOXNews, Frank explained how DHS is trying to separate the anxiety induced by a person afraid of flying or other mundane concerns and a terrorist intent on hijacking or destroying a plane.

... that's a lot of what the research is about these days, trying to separate, as you say, the person who's anxious because he or she just sees that this flight has been cancelled and the person is anxious because he might try to do something. So, they're running test subjects through the screening machines and what they're doing is they're asking them to lie about some hostile action that they've been told they're going to do, to try to measure how people react physiologically to lying about whether they're going to cause a disturbance.

The program is in its second year of a five-year project. Neither the USA Today article nor the FOXNews interview revealed how much the FAST project costs.

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