Airport security is tighter than ever these days and for some passengers it can include a pat-down by airport security personnel to ensure they’re not carrying anything they shouldn’t be.
Getting the pat-down right can be a delicate affair for the Transport Security Administration (TSA) officers that carry out the procedure. Frisk too lightly and they might miss something important, but go in too hard and a pat can feel like an offensive poke or fumble, potentially leading to one very upset and angry passenger.
Enter PATT, a smart mannequin being developed by the TSA and Homeland Security to help teach officers how to perform the perfect pat-down
The “Pat-down Accuracy Training Tool” is a highly sensitive soul, though it won’t sound off should a trainee officer get a bit heavy-handed during their early physical checks. The smart mannequin contains a “sensored” layer that’s able to measure the amount of applied pressure during a pat-down procedure.
PATT is hooked up to a computer and works with software that offers visual and objective analysis of the pat-down, with the provided data helping the officer to learn about how they can improve their technique.
There are two smart mannequins — for the male and female body shapes — with up to 2,000 sensors covering the entire surface area to provide the best possible feedback.
The training procedures, together with the objective feedback, aim to make frisking consistent and effective, thereby improving the security of the traveling public, the TSA said in a release.
Commenting on the new training kit, S&T First Responders Group program manager Ajmal Aziz said in a release, “As I … start conducting a pat-down, the trainer will be able to use the PATT technology to see where I’m applying pressure. Is it the right amount of pressure? Am I missing areas I should be looking at?”
David Band, PATT TSA technical monitor, said that “training without feedback is akin to learning how to drive a car with no working gauges.”
Band added, “While an experienced driver could give you some helpful guidance, a speedometer providing real-time feedback is a much better indication of how fast you are actually going.”
He said PATT will “vastly improve a TSA officer’s ability to apply pressure within an ideal range, to cover all areas in their searches and to reduce the time needed for new officers to achieve a high level of proficiency.”
Trials to evaluate PATT’s effectiveness will be launched at the TSA Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia, as well as at select airports such as Los Angeles International Airport.
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