NEMA Announces DHS Award To Write Airport Security Standard

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to write a new standard for airport security. Called Digital Communication in Security (DICOS), the standard will enable the prevention, detection, and response to explosive attacks by standardizing the screening of checked bags and other threat risk detection attributes at airports and other security areas.

DICOS will help guard against strikes in the U.S. by improving security and reducing risk through a networked and integrated component system that involves the sending and receiving of digital images and related information. In addition to its immediate application at 400 U.S. airports, DICOS is also appropriate for use in mass transit, rail, shipping, nuclear plants, and port security.

According to NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis, as the processes for scanning, inspection, and analysis become more automated, the need for more immediate and consistent information becomes more critical, particularly for homeland security reasons.

"The standard will enable the equipment users to install or upgrade devices that are conformant to a widely accepted standard and are manufactured by multiple companies," Gaddis said.

Based on the Digital Communication in Medicine (DICOM) standard, DICOS will establish the initial negotiation between communicating devices. The requesting device will need to know what the capabilities are of the receiving device. The exchanges are based on the capabilities that the two entities have in common which are communicated in the initial handshake. DICOS also will address the differences in how imaging devices represent values and define the transfer syntax.

Working with DHS, NEMA will develop DICOS as a standard for communicating across boundaries established among heterogeneous or disparate applications, thus allowing wide deployment of devices and systems used for security and protection purposes.

Currently, NEMA's Industrial Imaging and Communication Section has organized three working groups to develop:

  • Computed tomography (CT) for CT checked-bag attributes
  • Digital radiography (DR) for DR checked/checkpoint bag attributes
  • Threat detection report (TDR) for threat detection report attributes
In the future, the section is expected to address other modalities besides its current applications.

Currently involved in the development of the standard are representatives from Siemens, GE, L-3 Communications, Analogic, Optisecurity, Rapiscan, Reveal Imaging, Varian, and Guardian Technology as well as representatives from DHS and the Transportation Security Administration.

NEMA developed DICOM in 1993 as a global information-technology standard that is used in virtually all hospitals worldwide. Its is designed to ensure the interoperability of systems used to produce, store, display, process, send, retrieve, query, or print medical images and derived structured documents. DICOS is based on the same protocols.

NEMA is the association of electrical and medical imaging equipment manufacturers. Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its approximately 450 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end use of electricity. These products are used in utility, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential applications. The association's Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) Division represents manufacturers of cutting-edge medical diagnostic imaging equipment including MRI, CT, x-ray, and ultrasound products. Worldwide sales of NEMA-scope products exceed $120 billion. In addition to its headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia, NEMA also has offices in Beijing and Mexico City.

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