Travelers at Will Rogers World Airport soon will experience the whole-body imaging machines used to screen passengers at many airports across the country.
Kevin Donovan, federal security director for Oklahoma City, said the Transportation Security Administration will begin work Monday to install two advanced imaging technology machines at the east checkpoint and one at the west checkpoint. He anticipates having the machines operational and screeners trained on the technology by March 7.
Travelers can opt out of the screening and instead undergo a more “hands-on” pat-down, he said.
However, 99 percent of passengers choose the advanced screening method.
The screening machines at Will Rogers World Airport will use millimeter wave technology, which is safe for all passengers, including children, pregnant women and people with medical implants, he said, adding that the machines emit 1,000 times less energy than a regular cellphone call.
They will be equipped with automated target recognition software, which displays a generic outline of a passenger with a potential threat. When no potential threat is detected, the screen simply says “OK.”
Advanced imaging technology has been controversial at times, sparking a consumer group to organize National Opt-Out Day last fall and the filing of numerous lawsuits against TSA, saying the screening procedures violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
When it comes to detecting threats, Donovan said, the advanced screening method is “night and day” compared to the current method, which is based on metal detectors and a screener's ability to locate bulky liquids and powders.
“It adds another layer of security from Will Rogers World Airport,” he said.
TSA says there now are 600 imaging technology units at more than 140 airports. Tulsa International Airport became the 11th airport to receive the technology in September 2008.