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New Airport Technologies Aim to Combat Spread of COVID-19

A new technology that was recently implemented at Pittsburgh International Airport can help fight the possible spread of COVID-19 — and it can also make sure you’re not flying with a fake ID.

(TNS) — A new technology implemented at Pittsburgh International Airport can help fight the possible spread of COVID-19 — and make sure you’re not flying with a fake ID.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration officers have begun using four new mobile credential authentication technology (CAT) units at the Findlay airport’s main security checkpoint.

The system provides TSA officers with a means of verifying a traveler’s identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, while also confirming whether that person is scheduled to fly from the airport that day.

“Now we’re using state-of-the-art technology to determine that a form of ID is valid,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. “If someone tried to forge it, this unit will know.”

As an added bonus, the system is touchless — helping in the fight against spreading COVID-19. Travelers simply place their ID into the CAT unit to be scanned. The system then tells the TSA agent whether the identification is valid.

Before the TSA started using the units, travelers had to physically hand their IDs to officers, who then checked them for authenticity.

In most cases, travelers won’t have to show their boarding passes at the checkpoints, according to the TSA. The exceptions may be those under 18 or where there are issues with the ID.

“Credential authentication technology enhances our detection capabilities for identifying altered or fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s federal security director for Pittsburgh International.

According to the agency, the units can validate thousands of ID types, including: driver’s licenses, passports, military common access cards, retired military ID cards, Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards, uniformed services ID cards, permanent resident cards and U.S. visas.

The TSA plans to install 1,500 CAT units at airports throughout the nation by the end of 2022.

Pittsburgh International is among the earliest airports to get the units. They are being deployed only at the main security checkpoint in the landside building. They are not being used at the alternate checkpoint on the ticketing level.

While the units will accept regular driver’s licenses for the time being, they will not do so after Oct. 1, 2021. By then, driver’s licenses must be Real ID-compliant.

©2020 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.