Airport security measures will include biometrics

Airport security measures will include biometrics

Within six months, the Federal Aviation Administration will start 20 tests of new technologies, including biometric sensors, to increase airport security.

A new transportation security law mandates the 20 pilot projects at a cost of $23 million, said Rick Lazarick, aviation security technology integration lead at FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Tests of new ways to monitor employee access to secure sections of airports will focus on biometric technologies.

Such devices include fingerprint scanners, hand-geometry readers and facial recognition systems.

Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, FAA evaluated biometric systems as potential employee access control devices and had published a biometrics guidebook for domestic airports, Lazarick said. Back then, however, there was less pressure to implement biometric controls.

In October, Lazarick assembled a working group on aviation security and biometrics. The group, which included officials of the Customs Service, Defense Department, FAA, FBI, NASA and private organizations, posted its report on the Web at www.biometricscatalog.org/asbwg.

In December, the new Transportation Security Administration named Lazarick to a biometrics 'go team' and gave the panel 45 days to review biometric technology and how it could be used to improve security.

The team recommended developing national standards and an approved-products list for biometric systems, Lazarick said. The team's full report will be made public once it passes an internal review.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which Congress passed last November, mandated pilot projects in at least 20 U.S. airports that would 'focus on new and emerging technologies' that may include biometrics, Lazarick said.

The law requires a review of the effectiveness of biometric devices already in use in U.S. airports, although San Francisco International Airport is the only place that does so, Lazarick said.

Lazarick spoke at a conference organized by the Biometric Consortium, a research and standards group led by representatives of the National Security Agency and National Institute of Standards and Technology. The conference was originally scheduled to begin last Sept. 12 but was postponed after the previous day's events.

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