OR Tambo airport debuts smart security checkpoint

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Departing international passengers will use the new system that includes a conveyor system for checking hand luggage.
Departing international passengers will use the new system that includes a conveyor system for checking hand luggage.

OR Tambo International Airport has become the first African airport to implement a smart security checkpoint that will digitise the security check process, speed up passenger progress through security and further enhance security through use of state-of-the-art scanners.

The pilot implementation of the smart security system goes live tomorrow at the international departures security point at the airport.

From Tuesday, departing international passengers will use the new system that includes a new conveyor system for checking hand luggage and new scanning booth for individual passengers.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) last December introduced a biometric system in a bid to bolster SA's national security. However, since the introduction of the technology, passengers have been experiencing delays at OR Tambo, Africa's biggest and busiest airport, facilitating approximately 19 million passengers a year.

Bongiwe Pityi, general manager of OR Tambo International Airport, says the new smart security system complies with the highest global standards for airport security.

"There are only a few of these high-tech passenger security screening systems in use around the world, and we are very pleased to again be leading the way in terms of enhancing both security and the passenger experience. OR Tambo International is consistently rated highly in independent customer surveys and we believe the advent of smart security will further improve the passenger experience," she says.

"Passengers will find that with the new system, there will almost be no need for physical pat-downs of passengers who set off security alarms because the scanning technology is much better at detecting objects that should not be carried on or around the person."

Pityi says the first change passengers will notice is a security turnstile before entering the security area, where boarding passes will be verified electronically before passengers are allowed to proceed to the scanning area. There will also be less frequent requirements for laptops to be removed from bags and switched on.

The pilot of the smart security checkpoint will run until the end of January 2017, when its effectiveness will be assessed and possible improvements identified. Airports Company SA (ACSA) believes that over time, it should be feasible to introduce the system across the airports it operates.

The smart security programme is part of ACSA's 2025 vision to be the most sought-after partner in the world for the provision of sustainable airport management solutions.

A key element of this goal is to implement digitised services at airports that extend well beyond the current self-service check-in, self-bag drop and self-boarding systems.

"The smart security programme is going to enhance the airport's global security ranking and enhance our ability to counter emerging threats at airports while increasing operational efficiency and improving passenger experience," says Pityi.

"This programme will play a pivotal role in ensuring Airports Company South Africa moves from being an airport business that runs technology, to being a digital business that runs airports. As a business, we believe digitisation enhances our ability to deliver great customer experiences and our ability to grow and innovate," says Tebogo Mekgoe, chief operating officer at ACSA.

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