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New travel security system at Dubai 2001

posted on 07/11/2001: 1909 views

A news air travel security alert system, developed by the UK-based QinetiQ, which can alert airport staff and airline personnel to disruptive passengers or potential terrorists from check-in to boarding, is being ushered in at Dubai 2001 - the International Aerospace Exhibition - running at the Airport Expo until tomorrow.

The company, specialising for years in military intelligence technology, has used its experience and expertise in this field to develop the application for civilian travel, according to Dr Richard Wileman, Business Development Manager at QinetiQ. Called the MatchMaker, the system is soon to undergo trials in the UK, and some airlines have reportedly shown interest in its possibilities, particularly in the wake of the September 11 events, he said.

The MatchMaker would contain clearly specified data or records that identify passengers who are or who have been disruptive, undesirable or dangerous: examples range from someone who constantly smokes on a non-smoking flight, or someone who is verbally abusive with cabin crew, to someone who tried to break into a cockpit.

Airline users will be linked to MatchMaker using standard communication technologies, incorporating encryption and e-security measures at certain stages, in order to defeat hackers. The data would be supplied by participating airlines or governments to form the collective database (held by QinetiQ). Information will be totally confidential and only necessary data will be shared by member airlines, he said.

Governments, airlines, police forces, immigration authorities and security enforcement agencies will be able to feed into the database details of passengers who have been disruptive, involved in air rage incidents, associated with terrorism, are members of a terrorist organisation, or otherwise are wanted by a country's or an international law-enforcement agency.

The complete multi-linked system would include software applications and databases as well as hardware such as a passport verification tool which can be used for check-in, as well as for confirming the integrity or validity of a passport or any other travel documents necessary, in a few seconds. When a passenger hands in his or her passport at check-in, the airline will be alerted electronically if the passenger is on the database, through a passport reader authentication device. A check against QinetiQ's MatchMaker will then be initiated by the airline's reservations systems. When a match is made during check-in, the relevant information is passed to the airline for their appropriate action. From the photo and information flashed on the computer screen the airline can decide whether security should be called immediately or whether the passenger should be monitored.

The modular nature of the database system allows for upgradation. Dr Wileman said that it would be feasible for governments to install the system and then make it available to airline members at a charge, as most airlines are now either in "dire straits or having financial constraints" and would not want to add on costs at this stage. Asked about the cost of implementing such a system, Dr Wileman mentioned a 'ballpark figure' of £20 million, but said it was variable depending on the client wants. (The Khaleej Times)


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