ARLINGTON, Va. — For the first time, the Transportation Security Administration can monitor, in real time, the operations at 20 of the busiest U.S. airports, with the goal of identifying potential problems before they negatively affect the system.
In May, the agency created an Airports Operations Center inside its Pentagon City headquarters.
The center is equipped with large screens and speedy, configurable software and manned by supervisors of the agency’s various departments. The TSA can see how many security checkpoint lines are open at each of the airports and know if delays are forming, and why.
When the AOC is notified of delays at a particular airport, a phone call can be made to help determine whether a mechanical breakdown, or staffing shortage, or potential security issue is causing the slowdown.
In the past, each airport collected its own screening line data and submitted it to the TSA in a daily report.
Now, a daily morning conference call enables TSA supervisors to hear status reports and predictions for the day to come from security, operations, and airline representatives from each airport.
The agency says its ability to notice and deal with problems while they are still happening is making the process more efficient for the TSA and more pleasant for passengers.
Click through the gallery for a behind-the-scene look.
Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.