Body scanners to detect weapons and explosives that could cause a mass-casualty event will be the new normal on the Los Angeles subway system shortly, as L.A. becomes the first U.S. mass transit system to install the scanners.


Thruvision allows a user to see the automatic weapon concealed under this man's clothing.
(Photo courtesy Thruvision)


The devices can detect both metallic and non-metallic objects, such as plastic explosives, 3D printed guns and ceramic knives, on a person's body from 30 feet away, according to Thruvision, the UK-based company making the scanners.


The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the devices are capable of screening more than 2,000 passengers an hour without slowing their progress through the subway station.


"We're dealing with persistent threats to our transportation systems in our country," David Pekoske, who heads the U.S. government's Transportation Security Administration, told the Associated Press. "Our job is to ensure security in the transportation systems so that a terrorist incident does not happen on our watch."


Thruvision technology unobtrusively detects concealed weapons, explosives and contraband hidden under peoples’ clothing in crowded environments such as airports and train stations.


Based on imaging research work by the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the European Space Agency, Thruvision is a people-screening camera that allows a user to see any type of item hidden in clothing at a distance greater than five meters.


The scanners can screen up to four people simultaneously in a way that Thruvision says treats travelers in a "safe and respectful way."


"We're looking for explosive vests, we're looking for assault rifles," Alex Wiggins, who runs the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's law enforcement division, told the AP. "We're not necessarily looking for smaller weapons that don't have the ability to inflict mass casualties."


Wiggins said the scanners would be deployed only after employees and police officers had been trained on their use. Thruvision calls them "intuitive and easy for security staff to use."


The scanners are moveable from place to place. The company says this enables flexible, mobile deployment as part of a "pop-up security screening approach."


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

August 17, 2018