AI aviation security solution encourages freedom of movement 

Pangiam is set to trial new pattern analysis technology using Google AI at airports. Jasleen Mann explores the new solution.

Image: copyright

P​​​​​​​angiam, a US-based security and travels consulting services provider, is set to demonstrate an AI-driven accessible screening solution for aviation security.  
The project, dubbed Project DARTMOUTH, will use AI and pattern analysis technologies to analyse extensive data in real-time in order to identify potential prohibited items in passenger carry-on bags.
The AI-driven technology meets open architecture (OA) standards and can be integrated with other hardware and equipment relating to security, along with other third-party algorithms. 

Alexis Long, founder and product director of Pangiam, says: “I have been fortunate in the past to serve as the director of security strategy and cyber at Heathrow, as well as the chief innovation officer at The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of US Department of Homeland Security. 

“My experience in those roles left me feeling frustrated at times at the pace of innovation we were seeing in this sector when compared with how we were seeing technology advance in other sectors across the world and in other industries. One of the things we have started doing to change that is opening the airport security market through OA.” 

Improving data sharing with authorities 

OA is considered a powerful tool for airports and screening authorities as it allows flexibility in designing new security checkpoints and does not rely on a single provider. Systems can communicate securely due to these standards. 

X-ray and computed tomography (CT) screening of baggage requires the hardware to communicate with other checkpoint hardware. Software specialists can add value to the data that is created, as opposed to relying on proprietary data. 

The X-ray images produced are in open-source formats so that other users can read the data. The technology speeds up the process of sharing the data and with the airport and screening authorities. 

OA has created a whole new market for software developers.

“OA has created a whole new market for software developers to look at how they take data from checkpoint screening technology and build software solutions that can help interpret, analyse, and enrich it,” says Long. 

“We focus on the role of 3D CT scanners. As that technology gets rolled out, we are building software to bolt on top of those technologies, take the images and run powerful AI technology to interpret and enrich them. 

“AI-driven intelligence allows us, using advanced software, to screen bags for items that might pose a threat, allowing officers to focus on those items that may pose the greatest risk.” 

Assisting officers in finding unusual items 

Pangiam uses AI from Google which has been invested in over years for different use cases, as well as its own data analytical capabilities in the national security space. The technology provides a deeper and more rounded view of the contents of a passenger’s bag. 

The Google AI systems are also built to power other parts of Google technology used by operators around the world. Pangiam notes the traditional difficulties relating to machine learning projects are less challenging when using sophisticated technology. 

“The technology analyses the data in large volumes to alert officers. Officers are highly skilled. They don’t just look for prohibited items on a banned list, they are looking for things that look outside the ordinary. We are helping them to do that,” says Long. 

“That is important because we know there are groups constantly looking for ways to defeat security and it is arguable whether technical solutions that solely look for known items on lists fully do justice to the role of the officer,” he adds.  

Aviation security is highly regulated and requires that technology is certified and performing at a high standard. In December 2021, the TSA’s Innovation Task Force (ITF) issued a Broad Agency Announcement for transportation security solutions. As a result, ITF is searching for solutions that increase security effectiveness and efficiency.   

The first series of trials for Pangiam’s technology will take place at the TSA’s System Integration Facility and the TSA will eventually choose a pilot airport in the US. Elsewhere, Pangiam is working alongside AGS Airports Group and expects trials at Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Southampton airport in the UK.