[ExI] Behavioral screening -- the future of airport security?

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 2 21:08:07 UTC 2008

I'm curious to know what opinions are here regarding these new
technologies and how they are going to be employed?


 TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Keep your shoes and belts on: Waiting in
long airport security lines to pass through metal detectors may soon
be a thing of the past.
Behavioral screening could supplement, or even replace, walk-through
metal detectors.

Airport security checkpoints may become opportunities for screeners to
study passengers' intentions.

Security experts say focus is shifting from analyzing the content of
carry-ons to analyzing the content of passengers' intentions and

"We are seeing a needed paradigm shift when it comes to security,"
says Omer Laviv, CEO of ATHENA GS3, an Israeli-based security company.

"This 'brain-fingerprinting,' or technology which checks for
behavioral intent, is much more developed than we think."

Nowhere is the need for cutting-edge security more acute than Israel,
which faces constant security threats. For this reason, Israel has
become a leader in developing security technology.

Several Israeli-based technology companies are developing detection
systems that pick up signs of emotional strain, a psychological red
flag that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror. Speedier
and less intrusive than metal detectors, these systems may eventually
restore some efficiency to the airplane boarding process.

One firm, WeCU (pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a
combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and
flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden.
Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a
person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature,
heart rate and respiration, signals a terrorist unwittingly emits
before he plans to commit an attack.
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With these technologies, the emphasis is on speed and seamlessness.
Ehud Givon, CEO of WeCU, envisions a day when a passenger can breeze
through a security checkpoint in 20 to 30 seconds.

Although traditional security profiling can discriminate by race and
religion, security experts say behavioral profiling is more fair, more
effective and less expensive.

WeCU has received grants from the Transportation Security
Administration within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which
hopes to implement a system to pinpoint internal threats such as
airline employees intending terrorist acts.

Once these technologies are in place, a passenger may pass through a
security screening without realizing it. For example, passengers could
use an automated check-in system or gaze at a screen with departures
information without realizing they've just been exposed to the words
"Islamic jihad" written in Arabic.

These stimuli, explains Givon, will intrinsically elicit some sort of
biometric response -- whether the passenger knows it or not -- that
can be picked up by WeCU's strategically placed sensors.

"I believe that we introduce a new layer in security," Givon says.
"This is something that couldn't be done in the past: finding the
connection between a certain individual and the intent to harm."

The Orwellian-sounding startup has gone further to develop a system
that detects a passenger's behavioral intentions by scanning their
every step, literally. While walking around certain parts of the
airport terminal, a passenger may not realize he has stepped on a
"smart carpet" filled with hidden biometric sensors.

The technology is still under development, says Givon, who believes it
will be strong enough to pick up biometric information from a
footstep. If a passenger is wearing heavy hiking boots, for example,
WeCU will rely on biometric sensors combined with video and thermal
biometric imaging to detect malicious intent.

Another option from WeCU is a "smart seat," or cushion full of hidden
biometric sensors that could provide a more detailed read on someone
sitting in an airport waiting area, Givon says.

While the technology sound like something from a James Bond flick or
even "A Clockwork Orange," Givon insists that passengers will not find
the techniques intrusive. "We don't want you to feel that you are
being interrogated," he says.

Givon is negotiating contracts with airports worldwide and believes
his company's technology may be implemented as soon as 2010.

Nemesysco, another Israeli-based technology company, believes the key
to a person's emotions and intentions lies in their voice. The
company's patented LVA, or Layered Voice Analysis, technology can pick
up verbal cues from a passenger who may pose a threat.

Unlike a polygraph test, which checks for lies, Nemesysco's systems
work as an "emotion detector," says Nemesysco CEO Amir Liberman. In
other words, it's not what passengers say, but how they say it.

Nemesysco's devices use a series of patented signal-processing
algorithms that can differentiate between a "normal" voice and
a"'stressed" voice. If emotional stress is detected, officials can
determine if the passenger should be taken aside for further

The system works on the premise that all voices have a certain
frequency, and any deviation of that baseline frequency can indicate

Liberman says it takes approximately five to 10 seconds for their
system to capture a "normal" voice in casual conversation, which
establishes a baseline. Their system then measures changes from the
baseline voice that signify an increase in stress, excitement,
anticipation, hesitation or other emotions that can indicate a
potential terrorism threat.

A computer processes the voice patterns and then flashes words such as
"high risk," "medium risk," "excited" and "highly stressed." Through
his system, Liberman says, he "can see what's going on in your brain."

Versions of Nemesysco's system already have been successfully tested
at Moscow Domodedovo International Airport, where officials used it to
target criminals and drug traffickers. A version was recently
implemented at another major international airport which Liberman
declined to identify.

Layered Voice Analysis also has been used to test for insurance fraud
and on the TV program "Big Brother Australia."

Layered Voice Analysis has limitations, including the inability to
trace the vocal patterns of a person with a speech impediment. But the
system is more effective than current security measures, claims
Liberman, who believes a terrorist currently can pass through airport
security with explosive material "that can take down any plane."

In fact, many experts express little confidence in the current state
of airport security.

Philip Baum, London-based editor of Aviation Security International
magazine, says would-be terrorists could easily slip through security
checkpoints, even with new regulations that check for liquids.

"The archaic system of an X-ray machine and metal detector cannot pick
up other potential threats posed by passengers," Baum says. "I can
have a ceramic weapon or chemical weapons and walk through an archway
metal detector and it won't be picked up. Yet we have huge faith in
these metal detectors that can only pick up one substance."

Laviv, whose consulting firm focuses on securing mass transportation
systems, is equally skeptical.

"It is possible today to hijack an aircraft using only five or six
able-bodied passengers who are well-trained in Kung Fu fighting," he
says. "There is no technology in place in airports to detect a threat
like that.

"The question is, should our desire be to look for each and every
threat agent, rather than focus our efforts on identifying the
[violent] intention of the passenger?"

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