Eighteen months from novel idea to working prototype is quick by any standard. And ‘quick’ is not often a term applied to government. However, that is exactly what the Future of Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme has achieved. FASS is a cross government collaborative programme with investment of more than £3m from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Home Office for finding and funding new, innovative aviation security capabilities. This month marks the completion of ‘Phase 2’ of the programme, a significant milestone, with eight funded projects showcasing their innovation progress to potential investors, customers and decision makers at a recent event in London.
Working closely with the DfT FASS team, I have had the privilege to drive the programme milestones and support the development of these projects as the Competition Delivery Manager for the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA). Together, we have sought to harness novel aviation security innovation, accelerating defence and security solutions to keep UK airports one step ahead of potential threats.
Developing innovation for airport efficiencies
The FASS programme aims to improve aviation security and, at the same time, decrease passenger and staff inconvenience. For example, one of our funded projects, Sequestim has developed a super-sensitive, walk-through scanner allowing passengers to keep their outer clothes on whilst continuing to move through the scanner. A recent live trial at Cardiff Airport demonstrated the ability of the scanner to substantially increase passenger throughput, which has obvious advantages for passengers in the reduced queuing times at airport security checks.
Another project, Scanna has developed a sensor pad that can detect explosives hidden in shoes, this could mean that, in the near future, passengers won’t need to remove their shoes whilst queuing at security.
And it’s not just shiny new technologies we are interested in, we’ve funded the University of Cambridge to look at behavioural change in security staff and educating them to spot non threats and threats using smarter scanning techniques to speed up the process.
I am excited by working at such pace and being creative to find solutions that support the FASS team goals. The Aviation sector is vital for UK industry and tourism and contributes significantly to the economy. With passenger numbers increasing every year, it is more important than ever to employ the latest innovations to improve efficiencies. The bespoke service we offer the FASS team ensures that the ideas that we find and fund, offers world-leading innovations in Aviation Security.
The Showcase event provided the environment for collaboration between innovators, industry, academia and government. Rich discussions took place in the presentations, workshops and during the networking opportunities. The smaller companies benefitting particularly from business development advice, whilst creative solutions were being deliberated by innovative minds from across all sectors. Collaboration and communication is key for the next stage of success and whilst innovation can present risk, it can also bring tremendous rewards. And the reward of ‘passenger safety’ couldn’t be higher.
Tracey worked for 9 years in the manufacturing industry, before moving to the Education sector where she spent 16 years in a variety of schools, roles and responsibilities, including Head of Science and Assistant Head Teacher. She joined DASA as Delivery Manager in August 2018.