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Orlando International Airport to Get Remote Baggage Screening Upgrade

Baggage screening system commonly used by hotel and resort travelers to be remodeled, get new equipment with $23 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

One of Florida's major airline traffic hubs -- Orlando International Airport -- will improve a baggage screening system commonly used by hotel and resort travelers to popular destinations like Disney World.

Announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the enhanced security system fits with the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) ongoing goals of bolstering airport security while boosting the local economy, a DHS press release stated. The project will be paid for by $23 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

Part of the funds will be used to improve screening at the airport's remote, inline baggage screening facility, which is where about 6 percent of the roughly 54,000 total daily outgoing bags are first checked, airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said. Operated by the TSA, many people staying at hotels, Disney resorts, cruise ships and other tourist destinations prefer to have their baggage sent to the airport prior to arrival, which then go through the remote system before being loaded on the plane, Fennell said.

"We have diverse baggage and a lot of it, so it will certainly help," Fennell said

Known as an "inline" system, the automated network of explosive detection systems quickly and efficiently uses computerized tomography imaging to capture an image of the bag to ensure it doesn't contain a threatening or dangerous item, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said. Because it's an automated process, personnel aren't required, unless the luggage needs additional security screening, Koshetz said.

The systems use a conveyer belt to automatically screen, sort and track baggage -- which are all linked to a central control room and resolution room, where security officers resolve anomalies identified by the system, she said. EDS machines use CAT scan technology, which generates a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes for thorough image analysis, Koshetz said.

The facility will be remodeled and receive new infrastructure and equipment, Fennell said, which will add to passengers' convenience while streamlining the baggage check process. Such screening systems use "state-of-the art technology to screen checked baggage for explosives more quickly, while streamlining the ticketing process," according to DHS, and provide on-screen resolution capabilities for security officers screening baggage, reducing the number of rescans and physical bag searches.

Available for about five years at Orlando International Airport, remote baggage screening is an attractive option for travelers, Fennell said, who want the convenience of not having to go through the often time-consuming, nerve-wracking baggage checking process.

In other improvements, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced $7.5 million in stimulus funds for Orlando International Airport to expand its closed-circuit television system, including funding several hundred cameras to provide enhanced surveillance capabilities throughout the airport, the release stated.


Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.