A few weeks ago, one of our staff members was traveling through La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City and noticed something new: Outside security, positioned in two random places in the airport, biometric body scanners were quietly screening passengers for suspicious or dangerous items.
Most people didn’t even know they were being scanned. These were operating separately from typical security checkpoints. No one had to stop moving. No passengers lined up to pass through a piece of technology.
These $100,000 machines are mobile, on wheels, and can be placed almost anywhere. For instance, they might be pointed in the direction of riders on an escalator or passengers who are entering through a doorway. Using similar technology to TSA body scanners in security, the portable scanners project harmless electromagnetic waves in order to perform a full-body screening of humans in motion. That means you don’t have to stand in line before being scanned, nor do you have to stand still.
Along with occasional placement in airports, these unobtrusive scanning units have recently been deployed within the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They were first introduced as a testing partnership with the TSA but will become a permanent part of L.A.’s Metro security measures, screening subway or light rail riders. Transit authorities in New York City have also been testing similar scanners, which can detect suspicious items from as far as 30 feet away and scan more than 2,000 passengers an hour.
While extensive airport screenings have become commonplace in the years since 9/11, security checkpoints have yet to be introduced in ground-based mass transit. Officials say these portable scanners are intended to close that security gap. However, their ease of use and accuracy may also make them popular as supplemental security measures at airports—just like we saw in Guatemala.
Have you seen these scanners in use at an airport or mass transit station? How do you feel about these kinds of additional security measures?