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Changi Airport Leverages AI to Streamline Security Checks

Changi Airport is spearheading the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize security checks, promising to expedite the screening process by up to 50% for passengers departing from Terminal 3.


As air travel rebounds, Changi Airport Group (CAG) is proactively introducing an innovative system that harnesses AI and machine learning to automatically detect prohibited items in carry-on luggage. This cutting-edge system, known as the Automated Prohibited Items Detection System (Apids), aims to streamline security checks by minimizing manual review times and mitigating human error.


Preliminary results from the Apids trial have been encouraging, demonstrating the system's effectiveness in identifying prohibited items such as insecticides, cigarette lighters, and sharp objects like pocket knives. CAG reports that Apids' performance is comparable to, if not superior to, that of human security screeners.


In its current state, Apids functions as a support tool for security officers, highlighting potential threats in scanned images. The long-term vision is to enhance automation, enabling security officers to focus on manually reviewing only the bags flagged by the system, mirroring the process for checked baggage.

"As the technology advances, Changi Airport will determine whether to expand its implementation across the entire airport," CAG stated in the November issue of Changi Journeys. This potential expansion is anticipated to further expedite clearance times by up to 50% and optimize manpower resources for redeployment to other areas.


Airport World reports that AI algorithms can screen X-ray images up to five times faster than human operators, prompting similar trials in countries such as China, the Netherlands, and the US.


While CAG refrained from divulging specific details about the trial for security reasons, it emphasized that Apids is designed to process both 2D and 3D images. This capability is paramount as the airport experiences a surge in air travel, with passenger traffic in September 2023 reaching 89% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, totaling 4.87 million passengers.


Recognizing the challenges posed by the increasing volume of bags and diverse prohibited items, CAG remains focused on refining Apids' capabilities, minimizing false alarms, and expanding the list of detectable prohibited items. The AI system must also be trained to distinguish between harmless items and objects of concern or unknown nature.


Despite the promising outlook, regulatory hurdles remain. While European protocols assess Apids against international security screening standards, CAG underscores the need for further dialogue among international bodies and state regulators to establish robust policies for adopting this groundbreaking technology.

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