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Airport full-body scanner firm gains new contracts and expands in Edgewood

Smiths Detection, a Harford County firm that made headlines earlier this year for its controversial full-body airport scanners, is expanding its Edgewood headquarters this month as it wins new contracts.

The company, which designs sensors to identify explosives, narcotics and contraband, is adding 15,000 square feet to its warehouse. The 130,000-square-foot facility has added 70 employees in the last 18 months to a total of 215.

The expansion will give it the space it needs to supply the U.S. military with a chemical agent detector and manufacture X-ray scanners for the Transportation Security Administration, says Tim Picciotti, Smiths Detection's vice president, military & emergency responders .

Picciotti says the company likes Harford County because it is close to Aberdeen Proving Ground, the site of a Department of Defense testing facility for chemical and biological detectors.

It's also a good location because Aberdeen is expected to get as many as 20,000 jobs due to the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.
"BRAC will bring more of a high-tech workforce to Harford County," Picciotti says. "It's a fantastic location for us."

Earlier this year, the TSA expanded its use of full-body scanners, touching off a firestorm of complaints from privacy advocates who say the scanners are too invasive. Advocates say the full-body scanners can detect concealed weapons that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Picciotti says that in the future, Smiths plans to make X-Ray systems so advanced that passengers wouldn't have to remove their shoes or dump their bottled water.

Smiths Detection's other U.S. offices are in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. It employs 800 in the U.S. The company is part of the global Smiths Group which employs more than 9,000 people in the U.S.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source; Tim Picciotti, Smiths Detection

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