Analysis: Advanced Technology, Interoperability Key For Growth In U.S. Airport Security Screening Markets

With the establishment of the TSA, airport security has grown in prominence as the most visible aspect within the realm of homeland security. In the United States, the checked baggage market is nearing critical mass, witnessing a slow decline. On the other hand, the checkpoint screening market is poised for steady growth due to increased focus and spending in this segment by TSA.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, U.S. Airport Security Screening Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of over $4.53 billion in FY 2007, and estimates this to reach $5.42 billion in FY 2012.

"The demand for advanced screening technology will be the most significant driver in airport security screening," said Frost & Sullivan Research analyst David Fishering. "Security officials require technologies that eliminate false positives, increase throughput and most importantly enhance security and the overall security screening process."

In 2007 and 2008, the TSA had spent nearly $100 million on advanced systems including advanced technology (AT) X-ray, millimeter wave, backscatter imaging, and liquid explosives detection. By adopting the layered security approach, TSA has helped to widen the scope for newer technologies that can bridge the existing gaps in security effectively.

Deployments at airport security checkpoints will provide major growth opportunities until 2012. The prospects for checked baggage screening and air cargo screening remain lackluster as the market remains saturated. This prevents new entrants from venturing into the sector and restrains deployment of new air cargo screening technology.

"TSA has focused advanced technology on creating its 'Checkpoint Evolution', which is going to be rolled out over the next few years," Fishering said. "Air cargo was expected to be the largest boost for this market; however, with little enforcement and direction from the Congress and TSA, air cargo screening looks to be yet another fruitless government mandate."

The TSA's budget and spending are subject to intense scrutiny by the Congress. Only providers that offer a complete airport security solution that allows interoperability can hope to gain acceptance in the market. Besides affording cost efficiency, these systems must provide a total analysis of threats, heighten security, and reduce the intrusiveness of current methods.

Travelers are weary of the intrusiveness of security systems, and this bolsters demand for efficient systems that increase throughput, decrease transportation security officer (TSO)/passenger interaction, and improve security. Opportunities will likely stem from integration and automation, and the drive toward total recall will continue to expand business possibilities.

Overall, advancements in technology keep possibilities alive in a market that would otherwise be saturated and concentrated. The market must move away from the individual unit approach and gravitate toward a system of systems approach. Going beyond mere integration, sensor fusion, and interoperability is critical not only to enhance security and reduce cost, but also to multiply overall market prospects.

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