Vendors boost biometrics for homeland

A trusted traveler program to clear prescreened passengers would use a combination of biometric technologies, industry representatives said June 30.

Multimodal biometrics, such as fingerprint scans and facial recognition, are the only way to positively identify an individual, said Mike DePasquale, chief executive officer for Bio-key International Inc., which develops and licenses fingerprint technologies. He was speaking during a panel discussion at the Excellence in Government conference in Washington, D.C.

In a trusted traveler program, such as one proposed as part of the Transportation Security Administration's Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) II, a passenger could opt for a background check and receive an identification card. The card would include a fingerprint and a picture, which would be confirmed at the airport by fingerprint and facial scanners.

Because fingerprint scanners are constantly advancing, Bio-Key has created hardware-independent fingerprint scanning technologies. "We've decided to concentrate on the middleware...with the ability to use whatever hardware is out there today," DePasquale said.

Facial imagery is the most available and least invasive identity verification technology, said Oliver Revell, chairman and a director of Imagis Technologies Inc., which develops facial-recognition technology. Revell, also speaking at the conference, noted that people who have not been arrested, are not in the military or are not government workers likely do not have their fingerprints in the national database. However, many more people have had their pictures taken for passports or driver's licenses, for example.

Facial imagery "gives you the information not otherwise available," he said.

Similar technologies can also track and identify cargo. For example, a package at an airport can be planted with a device to track its location, and biometric cards can verify that the right person is handling a package at the right time.

Paradigm Advanced Technologies Inc. is developing a tracking device for packages that will alert officials if the package has crossed over set boundaries or if the wrong individuals handled it, said Charles Fey, vice president of strategic programs at Paradigm.

This concept also can be expanded to track individuals. For example, law enforcement officials can manage prisoners or even track each other in the field.

"Now we have a system that can be applied to a problem," Fey said at the conference. "I have another sensor input that allows me to see assets that wouldn't otherwise be seen."

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