Weapons Detection is Dead – Long Live Threat Detection

Check out our latest research on this topic: Global Homeland Security & Public Safety Market – 2014-2022


Weapons detection systems (gates and wands), for decades counter terrorism’s most ubiquitous and most visible mitigation tools, will soon start a gradual phasing out and replacement process, in favor of new technologies that will hopefully be able to detect a larger spectrum of threats, faster, more accurately, and for less money. The ubiquitous metal detection gate, and the even more ubiquitous weapon detection wand are not about to become an endangered specie anytime soon, but multi-threat portals, and hand-held units, utilizing exotic technologies such as mm wave, terahertz and microwave, among others, are beginning to show up gradually.
HSRC’s new Global People Screening Markets and Technologies Outlook 2009-2015 provides a coherent analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing this industry, from technological and functional perspectives.
The new systems, some offering standoff capabilities, need to undergo extensive field tests, but initial input from vendors and users suggests that the new systems will be able to bridge some of the more glaring current gaps in detection capabilities. In the threat detection portals, the situation is very interesting because the current crop of trace detection portals does not really provide a cost-effective, and/or operational response to the real need of the industry, both in aviation security, and even more so in transportation and public security tasks. That creates an urgent need for systems that will deliver robust performance, include detection of multiple threats (e.g., weapons, explosives, chemical), in a manner that will reduce false alarms to near zero, and provide as accurate an indication of the nature of the threat, in as short a time, at the lowest possible cost (probably requiring an automated process). Standoff threat detection solutions offer a promise to extend the utility of such technologies to road blocks, malls, sports arenas, public facilities, transportation hubs and even roads. Several systems, including SPO-7R™passive millimeter wave, by Planning Systems Incorporated (PSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Technology Solutions Group of QinetiQ North America, are currently undergoing pilot field tests in various facilities around the U.S. Before the end of 2009, users and vendors will be able to start assessing the potential impact of some of the new technologies on the threat detection market. We, at HSRC, think that this is a market with plenty of potential promise, and that despite the economic crisis, several systems will penetrate the market and start providing better threat detection.