Canadian Airports to Invest in Full-body Imaging

Canada's Transport Minister John Baird and Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport), announced the Government of Canada is investing in full-body scanners to enhance security at Canadian airports.

Starting in January, full-body scanners will be installed at major Canadian airports. This technology will give passengers a choice between a full-body scan and a physical search. The full-body scanner will be used to reveal objects, including weapons and explosives that could be concealed under clothing.

"The safety and security of Canadians is of the utmost importance to our government," Merrifield said. This latest passenger screening technology and passenger behavior screening will be added layers of security, which will provide a robust defense to further protect air travelers."

"Given the recent terrorist incident on Dec. 25, our government is accelerating its actions to protect air travelers," Baird said. "The new full-body scanners are the next generation of technology and balance safety and security with safeguards to privacy. They will allow for additional flexibility and enhancement to the security screening process."

The full-body scanner technology was tested last year at Kelowna Airport over several months to evaluate security effectiveness, collect operational performance data in an airport environment and validate the screening protocol for this type of technology. Health Canada was consulted on the use of the technology and has indicated that it complies with Health Canada requirements. In addition, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has confirmed that privacy concerns have been appropriately addressed.

Technology Background
The technology generates images of the body to allow the detection of items being concealed under clothing without contact between the screening officer and the passenger. This is a voluntary option for passengers and provides a screening alternative to the physical search.

The technology works by projecting low-level millimeter wave radio frequency (RF) energy over and around the passenger's body. The RF wave is reflected back from the body and from objects concealed on the body, producing a three-dimensional image. The entire screening process is harmless and takes about one minute.

The technology detects "anomalies" on a passenger, including metals and non-metals of all types, sizes and shapes; ceramic type threats such as knives and sharp instruments; liquids of all types; and explosives of all types.

Passenger Behavior Observation Screening
The training on passenger behavior observation screening will be customized to the Canadian airport operational environment and include rigorous quality assurance and oversight, recruitment and training.

This additional layer of security to Canada's aviation system focuses on identifying irregular or suspicious behavior and not racial or ethnic profiles. The emphasis is behavior-based, for example, wearing heavy clothes on a hot day or sweating profusely. Screening officers trained in passenger behavior observation screening may ask simple questions about the passenger's identity and reasons for travelling to alleviate any security concerns.

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