May 21, 2020 - Technology

Tech accelerator aims to streamline airport security in coronavirus era

A passenger removes a mask to be checked by a TSA officer.

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A new consultancy run by former Customs and Homeland Security officials is teaming with Dcode, a government tech accelerator, to help spur new technologies to modernize security in air travel.

Why it matters: As they look to return to more typical volume, airlines face the tricky task of needing to securely screen passengers for both security and health risks, while also ensuring they don't create long lines and crowds that become a risk for coronavirus transmission.

Details: Pangiam, run by former Customs, TSA and Homeland Security official Patrick Flanagan, is teaming with Dcode on Trade & Travel, an eight-week startup accelerator that will help incubate companies that have tech aimed at improving the passenger experience.

  • The partnership was formed before the coronavirus pandemic, but the task has taken on increased urgency in the COVID-19 era, Flanagan said. Securing air travel is further complicated because the sector is governed by a mix of agencies, airlines and airport authorities who often don't communicate, resulting in duplicative efforts, such as requiring travelers to pull out their IDs multiple times.

How it works: Trade & Travel's first cohort will consist of companies with technology approaches focused on passenger health and safety.

  • "You have no choice but to take some of these actions or the industry will struggle to get back on its feet," said Dcode CEO Meagan Metzger.
  • Applications will be accepted through mid-June, with a goal of starting the accelerator in September, likely online, perhaps transitioning to in-person.
  • Pangiam and Dcode are both for-profit efforts, with the accelerator charging participating companies.

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