N.Y. firehouse scouts biometrics

The events of Sept. 11 — when many New York fire departments discovered

just how vital it was to keep close track of the whereabouts of personnel

— have driven one Queens firehouse to look to biometrics as a way of clocking

firemen in and out of its building.

Previously, firefighters at the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department

had to sign in when they reported to the firehouse but might not remember

to sign out when they left. Problems also arose with people signing in for

others who were not there. As a result, one of the key issues on Sept. 11

was confusion regarding who was actually at the World Trade Center site.

With the biometric solution supplied by Sense Holdings Inc., firefighters

use their fingerprints to check in and out of the firehouse — a one-stop

solution that covers attendance and time on duty as well as identification,

authentication and security.

Having this technology could have meant all the difference Sept. 11,

according to John Velotti, chief of the West Hamilton Beach department.

"[It] could have given us up-to-the-minute reports on the location of

our firemen, which we could have then accessed from any place with an Internet

connection," he said.

Sense's CheckPrint T/A (time and attendance) biometric clock also provides

for a much more streamlined accounting and human resources system, said

Dore Perler, the company's chief executive officer. It can generate automated

reports in minutes, for example, and doesn't require firefighters to carry

security cards with them or remember access codes.

"Sept. 11 has really been a kick in the pants for the biometrics sector,"

Perler said. "Before, no one really knew what biometrics meant, and now

they are beginning to."

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at [email protected]

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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