Technology for Safer Skies

DQI Bureau
New Update

The latest failed bombing attack on the Delta Airlines flight from

Amsterdam to Detroit by a terrorist who tried to detonate a firecracker

kind of device in-flight has once again brought to fore the current

state of air security. Post 9/11 security at the airports had underwent

a sea change, while most of the travelling public have gotten used to

tighter security regime, the latest terror attack on Delta Airlines has

opened up the debate about whether the current security practices are

good enough to counter the changing nature of terror attacks.

The strategy most of the counter terrorism experts advocate is that
airports should up its technology adoption and must find more

innovative use of IT and scanning technologies which can seamlessly

blend to create a fool proof security mechanism in place. While US and href="">Airports

in the Europe use fingerprint scanning and some cities use full body

scan, but it’s not across all airports. Making it a mandatory

security process will go a long way in pinning potential attackers at

the points of exit. Many airports in the US had already deployed these

scanners and it is expected to go pan US very soon. And many EU

countries are also toying with idea of enabling airports with full body

security scanners.

edge technology

The full body scanners use cutting edge technology and as of now there
are two major types of scanners in vogue. One is called the Millimetre

wave scanners and the other Backscatter scanners. The former uses very

high frequency radio waves which are sent to a computer that

manipulates it into a 3D image. Meanwhile the Backscatter scanners uses

high energy rays which has the ability to go through the objects and

when it hits a suspicious object, it gets scattered and the deflected

energy produces a detailed view of the image by rendering it. These

images can be anything that the traditional metal detectors fail to

detect like plastic bombs, objects concealed in shoes, and plastic

explosives. The beauty of both the type of scanners is that they can

see through multiple layers of clothing and precisely separate the body

from the potentially dangerous objects strapped on to a passenger. The

whole scanning process takes less than a minute and with advanced

computing and imaging technologies the accuracy of identification is

almost 100%


But across the world privacy rights groups have been advocating that
these scanners enable security officers to see nude images of people

and hence it can be misused. But experts have dismissed it as an

unwarranted fear as these images were never stored and it gets erased

and moreover it is too difficult to identify a person’s

facial features from the images. But there is no exact data available

on whether these images can be further refined into a positive image

from a typical 3D negative. However some of the image manipulation

techniques will be able to build an exact image of the person from the

scanned images. Hence privacy groups argue that any misuse of the

scanned image will have a damaging impact of individual’s

privacy. But the latest developments have put the privacy issue in the

back burner and fool proof security has come into focus. So in the days

ahead, most of the airports in the west will deploy full body scanners.

So the biggest question is will Indian airports go the global way? As
of now manual frisking is the only sure shot method here- which again

is prone to error. The Intelligence Bureau has told the government on

the urgent need for full body scanners at Indian airports, it up to the

Bureau of Civil Aviation and Security (BCAS) to strongly lobby with the

government to ensure that at least in major airports these scanners are