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DHS wants whole body scanners that are portable

Having become accustomed to stationary advanced imaging technology (AIT) systems – also known as full body scanners – the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now interested in acquiring portable versions of the same detection equipment, which could be transported anywhere to quickly establish “high throughput security checkpoints.”

The department’s Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) issued a broad agency announcement on July 6 inviting prospective suppliers to submit their proposals by August 16 for portable AIT systems, which would include an “automated threat recognition” capability.

S&T is looking for a walk-through sensor that can detect metal and nonmetallic objects concealed anywhere on the body, in any orientation.

“The ability of the AIT system to detect nonmetallic objects shall be no less than the capabilities of the AIT systems currently certified by the Transportation Security Lab (TSL),” says the solicitation.

DHS wants a portable system that can be transported easily; installed ideally by one person, but certainly by no more than two people; and can process at least four people per minute, including entering and exiting the portal.

S&T says it is not interested in systems that are in a “basic research phase.” Instead, it wants to acquire systems that can reach the prototype phase in less than 32 months.

Individuals being screened by these new portable scanners will be asked to remove their jackets and empty their pockets. “During screening, the persons will be asked to stretch their arms out to the side; however, no turning of the subject is permitted during the scan,” explains the solicitation.

According to the notice, White Papers are due from prospective suppliers by August 16, full proposals will be due from “down-selected” candidates by September 30, and up to four awards will be offered by October 15.

The Portable AIT Program will consist of two phases. During a six-month Phase I, vendors will develop their ideas and culminate with a successful Preliminary Design Review. During Phase II, selected vendors will be given another six months to complete a Critical Design Review, followed by the fabrication of a prototype which might consume an additional 20 months, says the solicitation.

There will be a maximum of four awards, with each recipient receiving a maximum of $500,000 for the execution of Phase I.

TSA is planning to roll-out approximately 1,800 of the stationary AIT detection systems at U.S. airports by 2014, according to GAO testimony earlier this year.

TSA is also beginning to emphasize portability with its planned procurement of 800 portable explosive trace detection systems to supplement the 2,000 tabletop ETD systems it is currently using at U.S. airports.


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