Suspect Detection Systems, Inc., developer of what many believe to be the world’s most advanced and effective detection system for identifying terrorists and other potential criminals, is gaining both international attention and acceptance. Various versions of the electronic system, called Cogito, are already being used by commercial and governmental customers in Israel, Central America, and South Africa.

And now, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sponsored a trial of the system, to determine whether technology can take the place of human observers in spotting hostile intent. According to the report, the latest Israeli trials have been able to detect 85% of role-acting terrorists. It goes on to say that the company’s goal is to catch at least 90% of potential saboteurs, and that Israeli authorities plan to test the system at the country’s main international airport, as well as at checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank.

The system focuses on the clear idea that anyone planning an act of terrorism, or other crime, is afraid of being caught. To detect this fear, the Cogito system combines biometrics, similar to classic lie detectors, along with an evaluation of the subject’s answers to 15-20 on-screen questions. The answers are compared to those of the subject’s peer group, from previous interviews, taking into consideration different nationalities. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.

The entire SDS system is based upon a complex software algorithm, obtained from years of homeland security experience, involving hundreds of thousands of case studies from Israel and around the world. The company itself was founded by former senior Israeli security officials, including the former head of the polygraph division of the Israeli Police.

One of the biggest advantages the system has is that it tends to bypass the volatile issue of racial and cultural profiling. Although the system recognizes nationalities, that information is used only to establish peer group baselines to more accurately evaluate answers. The system looks for deception, not group types.

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