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Terrorist detection cameras for UK airports

09.09.07

Cameras connected to sophisticated computer software that can spot potential terrorists are to be installed at all major UK airports within months, the Scotland on Sunday has reported. Although the Glasgow Airport terror attack involved a vehicle driving into the terminal, post attack reviews of security have highlighted how vulnerable passengers are as they wait to check in. The cameras - which are already used in the US - will be installed in check-in halls to help protect passengers from al-Qaeda suicide bombers.

The system, known as behavioural screening, will allow the body language people in airport terminals to be automatically analysed and suspicious behaviour flagged up to security staff. It works by having a database of 'normal' human actions and behaviour programmed into it. The computer recognises and ignores general socialising and interaction but flags up anything it deems untoward. This could range from something as straightforward as an adult running through the airport to someone screaming.

The facial expressions and mannerisms of anyone in the airports can also be observed, and even if an individual is sweating more than usual - a possible sign of anxiety or nervous anticipation - that too can be detected and flagged up. The cameras are even capable of recognising individuals. Fugitive profiles can also be downloaded onto the system, and by scanning the millions of images, the technology can identify a suspect in seconds.

The new system will be installed in public areas of airports in an attempt to prevent a suicide bomber detonating themselves as passengers queue to check in. Passengers are particularly vulnerable at this stage because public access is allowed and there are no security checks, but often long queues, with large groups of people in an enclosed area representing a tempting target for terrorists.

Depending on the size and shape of the check-in hall, about four cameras will be used to scan specific sectors. Even if hundreds of people are in the terminal, the cameras are capable of detecting 'suspicious' movements and behaviour of individuals. The equipment will cost several million pounds and is so sensitive it can detect 10,000 separate facial 'microexpressions' and even changes in an individual's skin temperature.

A senior security source told the newspaper: 'The cameras will be phased in over the next few months across the UK as part of a rolling programme of new anti-terror initiatives. They will help passengers at all UK airports enjoy a new level of safety and will provide the authorities with a vital tool to tackle the terror threat.'

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