Scan today’s news headlines and you will read about a suspicious package or other explosive incidents. In fact, according to the most recent United States Bomb Data Center Explosives Incident Report, a total of 5,552 suspicious package incidents were reported in the U.S. during the 2017 calendar year. That is an average of 15 per day. The most commonly reported package type? Book bags or purses, luggage and briefcases or packages and parcels.
In that same time period, the U.S. saw a total of 1,228 bomb threat incidents, peaking in the month of May and occurring mostly on Tuesdays. Educational buildings, offices and businesses, residential dwellings and assembly locations like courthouses and restaurants remained the top four targets for bomb threat incidents.
The Impact of Technology
When we compare these statistics to the same 2016 time period, we see an 8 percent decrease in suspicious package incidents and a 20 percent decrease in bomb threats. This downtrend may be a direct result of today’s screening technology employed at the entrances of most commercial office buildings, mailrooms, entertainment venues and areas of assembly. However, is today’s technology alone enough to combat the ever-evolving threat of IEDs? And, without experienced and well-trained screeners operating this technology, how many of the above incidents were misinterpreted – leading to unnecessary evacuation and business disruption?
Technology + Trained Eyes = The Real Advantage
MSA’s SmartTech® integrates with existing X-ray equipment to provide real-time access to experienced bomb technicians, allowing for instant analysis of any suspicious item in just about 90 seconds. This means that any facility – regardless of size, scope or operator experience – can examine packages through highly-trained eyes.
The average security screener often lacks the experience required to swiftly identify and assess the many and always changing presentation of IEDs. With hundreds of images coming into MSA Emergency Operations Center regularly, MSA’s FBI-trained bomb technicians are well equipped to assess today’s threats. Moreover, their ongoing assessment and feedback to the screener serves as a critical educational resource, providing them with essential insight into today’s most common and often misinterpreted threat presentations.
State-of-the-art screening equipment will remain essential in continuing to drive down the number of explosive incidents. Yet, technology alone is no match for real-time access to trained eyes and experience. The right tools in combination with qualified subject matter experts are key to enhancing operational efficiencies, protecting people and assets and minimizing business disruption.