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TSA challenge crowdsources biometrics innovation for airports

Total cash prizes offered over $200,000

airport facial recognition masks

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently opened the Power of Passengers Challenge, calling on citizens and companies to experiment with biometrics and other innovative technologies that can increase TSA’s security and efficiency efforts, while also improving passengers’ experience.

Submissions will be accepted until January 28.

Stringent security measures

The TSA currently screens nearly nine million passengers and bags per day in the U.S. at more than 400 airports.

To perform this task, TSA employs roughly 50,000 transportation security officers, 350 explosives specialists, and 1,000 canine teams.

Moreover, the Administration has deployed nearly 950 imaging technology machines to scan passengers’ ID documents and biometric information.

Now, TSA to enhance its efforts further, calling for new ideas to improve the existing security system.

The Power of Passengers Challenge

The Challenge will take into consideration various criteria, namely situational and operational awareness, security screenings, passenger arrivals, international arrival transfers, and COVID-19 recovery.

Many biometric solutions will likely be submitted as part of the Challenge, as TSA has cited efficient passenger screening, improved passenger experience and COVID-19 health protocols as motivation for trials of facial recognition technology, and many of these technologies are already transforming the face of flying.

The total prize pool for the Power of Passengers Challenge is $215,000, with one grand prize awarded to the proposal with the greatest impact on all three areas of interest.

As for the rest of the sum, each of the three areas of interest will be able to award up to three prizes.

So, for example, one first-place prize per area of interest will be worth $25,000, one second-place prize per area of interest $20,000, and one third-place prize per area of interest $15,000.

Two TSA officials and NEC America’s Benji Hutchinson discussed the agency’s use of biometrics in an IBIA podcast last year.

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