National Institute of Justice Body Cavity Screening Technology Assessment and Market Survey

The following assessment and market survey were released in May 2014 by the National Institute of Justice Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies (SSBT) Center of Excellence (CoE) and were produced by ManTech Advanced Systems International.

Body Cavity Screening: Technology Assessment (Version 1.1) April 10, 2014 38 pages Download
Body Cavity Screening for Criminal Justice: Market Survey (Version 1.1) April 24, 2014 35 pages Download

Body scanners are used to screen for contraband in a variety of places. Airports, schools, government buildings, and corrections facilities are examples of the types of places that have employed body scanners. Different types of body scanners have different capabilities based on the imaging technologies used and the sophistication of the internal system analysis. Metal detection was one of the first technologies developed to identify metallic objects on a person, but contraband can take many other forms, such as powders (e.g., drugs), paper (e.g., money), and even ceramic or plastic weapons. Correctional facilities in particular are faced with various forms of contraband, and with elaborate methods of evading detection employed by the local population. Manufacturers have responded by producing scanners that are able to detect nonmetallic contraband, as well as systems that can detect contraband inside body cavities. This report identifies commercially available body scanners and discusses the technologies used by these products. Technological limitations pertaining to the type of materials detected and/or the ability to detect contraband inside body cavities are discussed.

1.2 Need for Contraband Scanners

Body scanners have been in use for the detection of contraband in many different scenarios where there is a heightened risk of individuals attempting to pass contraband materials into a controlled environment. Environments such as airports, corrections facilities, government buildings, and schools are some examples where contraband screening has been incorporated.

A large number of weapons are constructed (at least in part) out of metal. Metal detectors have been used for this purpose for many years, but they do not detect non-metallic objects, such as drugs, explosives, or plastic weapons. Pat-downs are effective at finding items concealed on a person, but these are time consuming, and have heightened scrutiny with respect to privacy and appropriate officer conduct. Body scanners may help reduce the burden of manually searching for contraband, however there are technological limitations.

Ideally, a body scanner would be able to detect metallic as well as non-metallic contraband that is hidden underneath clothing as well as detect contraband hidden inside body cavities. The ideal scanner would also perform these tasks without the possibility of harmful effects (short or long term) to the subject or the operator(s) of the scanner, and maintain the privacy of individuals to the fullest extent possible.

5.2 Body Cavity Screening System Requirements

Question 2: A working set of operational requirements for Body Cavity Screening technologies is listed below:

  • Detection Goals:
    • Nonferrous metal the size of a .22 caliber bullet
    • Ferrous metal the size of a single razor blade
    • Plastic the size of a plastic toothbrush handle (i.e., cylinder 1/4 inch diameter by 4 inches long)
  • Scanning does not require contact with the subject’s skin
  • Accommodate subjects up to the 95th percentile in girth
  • Device is stowable when not in use
  • Easy to use and provide intuitively understandable results
  • Cost similar to the $6,000 now paid for metal detection portals
  • Scan times of several tens of seconds per subject

Responses (provided unedited):

1. Respondent #1 –The ability to located smaller ferrous, non-ferrous, plastic, and ceramic items, such as plastic bags containing drugs, Sim cards, plastic chargers, ceramic blades, etc. Low dosage x-ray will safely accomplish this mission and the technology already exists. Many states have existing laws in place, written for the medical diagnostic community years ago, requiring an x-ray technician certification when using any type of x-ray device on humans. This requirement virtually eliminates law enforcement/detention use since it is not practical to send officers to a two year x-ray technician course design for medical applications. If we focus on re-writing the laws to accept low dosage x-ray for security screening (actually less radiation than experienced by a three hour flight at 30,000 feet in a commercial airliner for example) we will have a solution. It works very well and is in use in several states already.

2. Respondent #2 – what about smaller plastic containers e.g. condoms that contain liquids, powders, and/or pills

3. Respondent #3 – The goals speak to a portable device with the requirement for it to be stowable. While portability can be beneficial, pass through devices similar to metal detectors should not be ruled out or excluded.

4. Respondent #4 – Must not be harmful to human subjects after repeated exposure (i.e., no x-rays). User interface display must provide appropriate masking of genitalia to accommodate privacy concerns.


Share this: