With training requirements increasing and classroom time becoming more limited, airlines are looking for effective and efficient methods to train their staff. Computer-based training (CBT) with its flexibility and relative affordability has quickly become a favoured training tool, and the market has become almost saturated with a diverse range of solutions. Aviation Security International approached some of the industry’s leading CBT providers and asked them what makes their product stand out from the crowd and what the future holds for distance learning and out-of-classroom education.
“…Battelle offers the Computer based training solution for the world of computed tomography…”
Whilst most computer-based training solutions focus on traditional X-ray image interpretation, Battelle offers the CBT solution for the world of computed tomography (CT). Battelle’s ProDetect™ is an advanced software trainer for users of CT EDS (explosive detection systems). ProDetect is a laptop-based 3D trainer that operates either in a standalone or networked capacity, and that provides a volumetric CT training experience to give trainees a high-fidelity CT simulation with a graphical user interface that matches their working CT environment.
ProDetect’s developers started with the premise that maximum learning occurs through realistic training simulation, reinforced through ‘immediate feedback’ after each alarm resolution challenge, and followed by ‘rich elaboration’, providing in-depth information about the key elements of the threats they just experienced. This approach assures screener involvement and attentiveness and high retention of trained skills.
With each alarm resolution challenge, ProDetect presents trainees with alarm, CT slice and threat images, each with full CT manipulation controls, all on the same screen.
ProDetect’s ‘adaptive training mode’ provides threat images to challenge trainees with specific threats they are finding difficult to correctly resolve. Additionally, ProDetect’s IED Builder software provides trainees with a self-paced, interactive tool to familiarise themselves with IEDs by allowing them to select each of the four components of an IED from an extensive image menu and then it virtually builds the IED for them to see both as a picture and as an X-ray image. Administrative controls allow management to establish a wide range of threats and bag clutter images for training and to customise them into playlists that can be assigned to individuals or groups. Trainee test results can be summarised and presented in a variety of ways to facilitate performance analysis and record keeping. ProDetect is offered by STI GmbH (see below) in conjunction with their Operator Training System (OTS) software product.
“…X-Ray Tutor is the world’s only CBT programme for X-ray screeners that is based on scientific research…”
CASRA’s claim to fame is that its X-Ray Tutor (XRT) is the world’s only computer-based training programme for X-ray screeners that is based on scientific research. The individually adaptive training algorithms, image displays and human-computer interactions are all based on findings of scientific studies and the effectiveness and efficiency of XRT is documented in many scientific publications.
Thanks to the individually adaptive training algorithms, users are presented with images tailored to their individual knowledge and skills taking into account the whole learning history. This makes training interesting, motivating, effective and efficient.
CASRA maintains a large library of prohibited items based on a Systematic Threat Assessment (STA). The STA team is continuously analysing different threat information sources including the deep web and dark net to analyse current threats and identify new and emerging threats. The results of this continuous analysis is used for regular updates of XRT training libraries. With the help of certified security operators, CASRA create training modules by following the highest quality standards
The upcoming version XRT4, which is going to be launched next year, is covering single-view, dual-view and 3D CT training in an all-in-one solution. Each XRT4 training module will be highly customisable to meet customers’ individual and regulatory requirements. XRT4 also offers generic and manufacturer specific user interfaces, such as Smiths Detection or Rapiscan, to be selected for each module. Depending on the chosen version, customers can also upload and fully manage their own image content.
XRT4 uses the latest web technologies HTML5, AngularJs and WebGL, which allows it to run on most platforms and browsers without the need to install additional plug-ins. Further, it provides a state-of-the-art data warehouse (DWH) to integrate XRT4 data fully with clients’ local BI systems.
“…DSA courses can be delivered as programme downloads with cost driven by total number of computer licenses…”
Security organisations today want the flexibility to provide training to their staff at a lower cost than typically associated with classroom, instructor-led training. When looking for training, they desire a ‘simple’ solution that will meet all of their training needs. CBT provides that capability and DSA Detection keeps that requirement in mind.
The DSA Detection customer is provided with several options when considering CBT programmes, catering to all sizes of organisation. The online-based courses are accessed by a simple login per student and provide pre-selected course programmes. Aside from online CBT, courses can be delivered as programme downloads with cost driven by total number of computer licenses. Alternatively, they can be projected through the customer’s own computer network, allowing for supervisor-led training groups in larger companies or organisations.
Course topics range from operator-level training on specific screening systems to X-ray interpretation modules. There is everything from cargo to mail screening, using a virtual X-ray unit keyboard where students can virtually press image filter keys just as they would in a real scenario to determine if a threat is present.
Multiple CBT courses can additionally be combined into comprehensive training programmes hosted on DSA’s learning management system (LMS). This provides the ability to monitor and assign training based on specific requirements. The combination of CBT and LMS creates a tool that allows the customer to track, plan, and modify a complete annual training programme for their staff.
“…ICTS Europe sees the future of eLearning and CBT in mobile training apps that are friendly, up-to-date, and accessible anytime and anywhere…”
ICTS Europe has been using EAGLE, its proprietary X-ray screening CBT system, for years now, to meet regulatory requirements concerning basic and recurrent training. Eagle helps management to oversee training activity as well as adjust the system according to changes in training polices.
Recently, following the growing threats of terrorism in public venues in general and airports in particular, ICTS Europe has been looking for training solutions that could be implemented rapidly to contribute to its own 16,000 staff’s sense of personal security in the workplace, and enhance the level of security in the facilities where they operate.
ICTS Europe has therefore developed an add-on to its EAGLE CBT platform: a unique mobile training platform and started the implementation of AWARE, a mobile training app focusing on security awareness in airports and on efficiently detecting and reporting suspicious signs that might indicate an upcoming threat.
The implementation of the AWARE app took place in various countries. Employees were encouraged to install the app on their mobile devices and go through a short, interactive engaging security awareness programme.
ICTS Europe sees the future of eLearning and CBT in mobile training apps that are friendly, up-to-date, and accessible anytime and anywhere. Moreover, the use of training apps enables ‘pushing’ updates of learning content, whenever these are required, without having to schedule costly training sessions that might also interfere with operations. In recent years, such content updates have been added to the AWARE app whenever a new attack has taken place, focusing on the lessons that can be learnt from the analysis of the incident in terms of suspicious signs that were exhibited and that could have helped preventing the attack if it or they had been reported on time.
Training thus becomes almost instantly up-to-date, always available and ever-relevant, meeting both the operational needs of the company and training preferences of the young generation of employees who are enthusiastic about the usage of mobile devices for training.
Kedlin Screening International
Kedlin Screening International (KSI) takes a ground-breaking approach to improving threat detection that leverages a scientific understanding of the most fundamental skill needed for threat detection: visual search.
KSI specialises in assessing and selecting candidates based on visual search competency for security-related performance (e.g., item recognition, search strategies, cognitive capacity). Critically, the insights obtained through this cognitive focus can generalise across machines, settings, and threat types.
KSI’s flagship product, XRAY Screener, is a tablet-based assessment tool that is grounded on the largest existing research dataset of visual search performance (more than 14 million individuals performing over 3.5 billion bag searches). In a TSA trial, the XRAY Screener assessment (which takes approximately 15 minutes) was shown to predict which screening officers were both best at detecting real threats (covert tests) and most efficient at clearing bags at live checkpoints.
“…XRAY Screener is a tablet-based assessment tool that is grounded on the largest existing research dataset of visual search performance – more than 14 million individuals performing over 3.5 billion bag searches…”
XRAY Screener is currently being used by security providers to inform new hiring decisions and resource allocation (e.g., providing further training, specialisation), which can improve a workforce’s screening capabilities and ultimately reduce risk and increase efficiency.
XRAY Screener is tablet-based, providing a cost-effective and portable tool that is extremely flexible (e.g., organisation-wide software updates can be done seamlessly) and easily personalised for each employee (e.g., individualised assessments and training focused on critical areas or those that need improvement). XRAY Screener’s data-driven process yields immediate reports for screeners and management. XRAY Screener leverages established science and elements from a highly successful and intuitive app platform to offer a novel and powerful way to improve and inform aviation security.
Technology has been advancing in all areas in the last few decades and especially so within security screening. The aviation security industry has long been the beacon that is followed by all other industries where technological checkpoints are in operation, and as training providers it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the training keeps pace with the technology, processes and procedures in use operationally. Whether that be remote screening operations or CT/3D security X-ray equipment, the training provision must offer solutions that will continue to provide security trainers with the right tools for the job.
Quadratica believes that training must be relevant to the operational environment within which security personnel put their skills to use. This belief has led it to develop training systems in partnership with its customers to ensure that what is produced is 100% relevant to their needs. This ranges from replicating the functionality of the X-ray equipment in relation to image manipulation to the feedback that trainees are given. Additionally, Quadratica ensures that all of the options available within its software are configurable because every operational environment can be subtly different.
Quadratica UK is a software development company, and as such it continually improves its products with new features being released regularly; all based on customer feedback or in-house discussions. As a result of this, its patented product, X-Screen®, benefits from all of the attributes that advances in computer technology allow. This approach makes X-Screen® the perfect tool in terms of functionality, flexibility and technical capability.
Training provision needs to be a joined-up solution and, by developing the company’s Quad LMS product, Quadratica offers security trainers total control over their training provision with reporting across their entire domain.
“…X-Screen®, benefits from all of the attributes that advances in computer technology advances allow…”
“…Quelltex’s LOFT (Look Out For These) updates allow other screeners to see images of actual search area finds from their own, and indeed other, checkpoints…”
Quelltex has a well-established web-based learning system providing a wide variety of courses, both standalone and designed to complement its classroom training activities. Quelltex’s X6x6 product was originally devised to enable its clients to comply with EU regulations relating to recurrent training and testing for X-ray screeners. Now, however, Quelltex builds bespoke packages for clients, some of whom even have their own colour schemes and page designs throughout the course content.
With a web-based system, Quelltex can respond quickly to client needs and to developing threats. As an example, its LOFT (Look Out For These) updates allow other screeners to see images of actual search area finds from their own, and indeed other, checkpoints.
X-ray screeners can view their own compliance reports to help them manage their own time, a functionality which Quelltex believes helps ease the management burden associated with driving each screener toward compliance.
The X6x6’s administration feature enables managers to view and download compliance reports for time spent on X-ray exercises, as well as managing user profiles, reviewing score data and accessing certificates where appropriate. Administration tools allow quick and easy blocking of users as part of an employer’s ‘staff leaver’ procedures. Meanwhile, for new hires, Quelltex administers new user enrolment for most of its clients; some elect to enrol their own. Quelltex is particularly flexible with working and billing arrangements, recognising that cost is a significant consideration for many.
Quelltex works hard to build lasting relationships with its e-learning users and clients, keeping clients informed where X-ray screeners are finding particular parts of an exercise challenging, analysing question response in detail and offering learner support where it can help.
With large numbers of learners enrolled for a variety of courses, Quelltex has to ensure its site is there, running reliably night and day; it is proud of its track record with system reliability, as well as response time to client requests and regulatory requirements.
In the crowded environment of computer-based training within the aviation industry, Redline sets itself apart as one of the market leaders through the development and integration of learning practices aimed at improving the user experience and skills transfer. Whether a learner is undertaking a qualification online, receiving a blend of online and instructor-led tuition or using the company’s threat image recognition training (TIRT) system, designed to specifically focus on the acquisition and development of X-ray screener competencies, the focus is the same: to enhance both the user experience and the transfer of skills and knowledge into practice.
“…Redline is experimenting with the use of 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality media…”
Redline’s multi-tenanted Learning Management System (LMS) allows it to provide content globally, providing each client with a unique and personal experience localised to their region. The extensive reporting functionality allows the company to continually analyse the accuracy and validity of its training while also enabling its clients to track the progression and performance of their people. End-of-course surveys are also employed to obtain valuable feedback to drive the continual improvement cycle.
Redline’s experienced, in-house, instructional designers work in partnership with its AVSEC SMEs to create engaging bespoke content, which is relevant, effective and accurate. They also strive to improve accessibility through the effective use of audio, graphics, video, and multiple language translations. Redline offers its clients full collaboration functionality on its LMS, which can be configured for style and branding, incorporating community-based learning such as forums and discussions.
Looking to the future, Redline is experimenting with the use of 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality media within its training, as well as being able to offer ‘just-in-time’ training and microlearning vignettes to further enhance knowledge retention and address the latest changes to threat and regulatory response. By continually improving its training methodology and delivery, and remaining abreast of the latest technologies, Redline helps its clients prepare for the future by providing effective learning today.
Renful Premier Technologies
“…Renful believes that…a CBT system should allow full customisation of the training and test content, the scoring parameters and the visualisation of data…”
Renful has been at the forefront of the development and supply of computer-based training systems for over 20 years. The CBT systems that it offers are the products of many years of research and development, as well as customer feedback. The combination of expertise provided by aviation security professionals and the innovation of a highly skilled development team have enabled it to create a suite of training and assessment technologies which have been supplied to customers in over 60 countries globally.
Renful’s flagship CBT system, Simfox (Simulator for X-ray) is a unique platform that allows organisations to create and deliver training content and to serve as a testing tool for the certification and licensing of X-ray operators.
The greatest advantage of the system lies in its flexibility to cater for the varying needs of the company’s clientele. Renful believes that rather than confining instructors to a rigid training structure, a CBT system should allow full customisation of the training and test content, the scoring parameters and the visualisation of data. With Simfox, training is no longer classroom-bound as Simfox is accessible from any device, from desktop PCs to tablet computers, so that operators can train using the downtime in operation without additional cost to their employer.
When it comes to the training and assessment of aviation security X-ray screeners, Renful promotes a holistic approach that links the operator’s threat image projection (TIP) results, detection performance and false alarm rates as well as covert test results. Using performance data from outside sources, the Simfox system can create targeted training scenarios that aid deficiencies and improve image interpretation abilities of the operators. Renful advocates that it is this comprehensive performance measure, with the inclusion of multiple sources, that should be used to determine an X-ray operator’s competency rather than an annual certification test.
Safe Passage International
“…trainers log when hands-on and on-the-job training are completed to form a complete training record to demonstrate regulatory compliance…”
A key advantage of the Safe Passage Training Management System (TMS) is its ability to meet compliance and tracking requirements of regulators worldwide. Designed from the ground up, this comprehensive training solution assures all facets of training are met to ensure regulatory compliance. The TMS analyses training data and outputs student performance into various formats. Customers have the ability to view reports within the TMS, export data to external applications, or integrate data directly into their own learning management system (LMS). The testing and performance measurements are designed to comply with regulatory requirements for standardised image tests, continuous X-ray training, and multiple-choice testing requirements. The TMS also has the ability to allow trainers to track instructor-led components of compliance training. Trainers log when hands-on and on-the-job training (OJT) are completed to form a complete training record to demonstrate regulatory compliance.
Going forward, Safe Passage believes CBT must be more flexible and adaptive to endure what’s to come. The rigidness that usually comes with pre-packaged, static CBT products will severely negatively impact organisations when it comes to aviation security training. With constant changes in screening technology, regulatory requirements and threats, CBT providers will need to utilise a training framework flexible enough to support the ever-changing needs of the world. Providers will also need to be adaptive and nimble in order to modify content, change functionality, and build new courses quickly to meet the demands of regulators and customers. Flexibility and adaptation is key.
Simulscan is a web-based CBT solution created for training, assessment and certification of X-ray security screeners working in the aviation security and maritime security environments. The system consists of an X-ray simulator embedded into an LMS platform, so that it allows integration of theoretical lessons and/or testing in any other area where knowledge is required to be assessed by the authorities.
In general, Simulscan offers some unique features compared to similar products on the market. The most important one is that the image library is built using original, real X-ray images made with real bags, cargo and mail in which the hidden threats are real. Such images are studied and prepared by a team of experts who have acquired significant experience in both security operations and training for over 25 years.
The various contexts displayed in the CBT are made according to ‘covert testing’ principles rather than the use of threat images generated by algorithms. In other words, no ‘baggage building software or TIPs are present in the system. In this way, knowledge is tested and certified by means of ‘real life’ X-ray contexts and not by artificially generated images, which very often have no relation to reality.
Another unique feature of Simulscan is the ability to track decision-making. In addition to interpreting X-ray images, screeners also to need apply procedures in order to demonstrate their abilities in procedural application.
Simulscan is capable of testing screeners’ abilities in three different ways: image interpretation; threat recognition; and, decision making.
In the future, Simulscan believes that CBT solutions will probably be integrated into the X-ray equipment used at airport, and training will be done while performing security duties. By means of artificial intelligence algorithms and big data analysis, it will be possible to track each individual performance and assign personalised training according to single users’ deficiencies.
“…the Simulscan image library is built using original, real X-ray images made with real bags, cargo and mail in which the hidden threats are real…”
STI GmbH – Security Training International
Each airport, civil aviation authority, security provider and responsible security supervisor faces the same challenge: to provide the most efficient training to ensure that operators and screeners can reliably detect prohibited or restricted objects and bombs.
The results of recent studies illustrate that without training software in place, the ability of operators and screeners to evaluate X-ray images is not satisfactory. This is due to the fact that the daily routines of the majority of operators and screeners are very monotonous, and almost 100% will only encounter objects that pose no threat. However, it is of upmost importance that if a threatening object is presented, the operators are in a position to quickly and reliably detect the threat and respond appropriately.
To assist operators with the pressures and responsibilities associated with their role, STI has developed its own software: Operator Training System (OTS). STI’s X-ray simulators offer 100% true X-ray images with high image quality and plenty of practice material (guns, IEDs, etc.).
“…there is a photographic image for every X-ray image
However, to ensure that the training is both efficient and varied, their simulator not only features a multiple-choice programme in which trainees either classify images as ‘OK’ or ‘Not OK’, but also programmes with different ‘run’ types requiring more sophisticated responses. For example, a ‘marking run’ asks the operator to find certain objects in the X-ray image within a predefined time period. In the ‘recognition run’ the operator identifies and classifies a threat from the software-marked object. Finally, the ‘alert run’ simulates live operations, requiring the operator to evaluate the images and make a decision about whether they contain a threat object or not.
There is a photographic image for every X-ray image for comparison, and all simulators include the original X-ray machine GUI (graphical user interface) with all available image enhancement functions (organic only, SEN, crystal clear, etc.).
“…XDsystems has direct access to Tamar Group’s explosives laboratory, Tamar Group’s X-Test inert simulants and its high-level team of explosives experts…”
As terrorists keep looking for vulnerabilities in airport and airline security, aviation security staff are forced to reach and maintain a high level of security without delaying passenger throughput. XDsystems enables managers to bring their security staff to a high level of proficiency even before they start working in the terminal. XDsystems software is designed to assist security personnel with better utilisation of security equipment and provide a means for enhancing security-related expertise for personnel in any role.
XDsystems training programmes can be designed for various roles and qualifications (X-ray screeners, dispatchers, management) at different complexity levels. XDsystems has direct access to Tamar Group’s explosives laboratory, Tamar Group’s X-Test inert simulants and its high-level team of explosives experts. This allows XDsystems to continuously update its image library with evolving threats.
XDsystems offers managers easy tools to monitor staff qualification status, performance and methodologies through configurable and flexible criteria including the ability to: upload X-ray images from a client’s own X-ray machine; create new X-ray images; track OJT and other external activities using a form generator; upload videos, documents and forms; create pre-defined practices and tests; incorporate its clients’ own security methodology; create different programmes with various modules – video clips, reading material, X-ray simulation training and tests or text-based tests; select from different types of reports to track training progress and performance of a site or an individual; obtain a full ‘replay’ of any completed equipment simulation module that mimics OJT training; and, to choose from multiple languages XDsystems’ X-ray simulation modules are brand-independent, allowing complete simulation of most commonly used X-ray equipment. Screeners are provided with their equipment ‘look-and-feel’ interface and, therefore, are easily adopted by users.