McCarran Airport Getting New Automated Security System

Airport Travel with Luggage and Airplane

Airport security can slow things down immensely. Long lines of people are a common sight at airports, with a lot of check points and security guards. That’s something one airport wishes to change.

McCarran International Airport is automating its security in an attempt to have travelers moving through the airport faster. The Las Vegas airport is one of the busiest in the U.S., and needs to have a system that can account for it, officials say.

The automated security system came online at the beginning of September, and it’s aimed at processing passengers 20% to 30% faster than the traditional method. They currently only have three of their security lanes equipped in such a way but want to add the new system all throughout the airport.

“It is a phenomenal improvement and something that we hope will work and be expanded to serve other customers in other areas of the airport in the near future,” airport spokesman Chris Jones said.

The new automated security units include features such as:

  • Stainless steel counters designed to allow multiple passengers to place their items in bins
  • Bins that are 25% larger than bins at other screening areas
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on each bin to ensure property security
  • Cameras that take photos of each bin for reference of passenger belongings

Each new screening area has three windows that allow passengers to place their belongings into bins for scanning. The goal was to let experienced passengers move through the process quickly, without having to wait for inexperienced ones.

The system allows TSA security guards (who will still be employed despite automation) to isolate bags with a separate belt when they pass through. All they have to do is push a button and move the item along.

“It’s an automation occurrence, which means we have 100 percent clarity that we have the right bag,” Steve Karoly, the TSA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Requirements and Capabilities Analysis, told the Las Vegas Sun.

The new technology is a great step forward for the U.S. airport which, like most airports, had been relying on personal rather than technology up to this point. An automated system can help save money in the long run, as the average salary for a security guard is $30,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And while guards will still be needed, it does mean they can be a little less in demand or overworked.

“This is great. It’s new to us, but it’s not leading-edge technology because it’s been in Europe for the last five years,” Karoly said. “But we are looking at a system-wide perspective of aviation security.”

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