DHS ready to pilot new 10-fingerprint technology at airports

Joshua Blake

Federal officials expect to test a 10-fingerprint scanner technology at 11 airports this summer, according to the Homeland Security Department.

P.T. Wright, acting deputy director of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (U.S. Visit) program, said that the tests would evaluate the performance of two scanners the department recently ordered: the Identix Touch Print 4100 Enhanced Definition Device provided by L-1 Identity Solutions Inc. of Stamford, Conn., and the Crossmatch L Scan Guardian Scanners provided by Crossmatch Technologies Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

DHS already has fielded the new generation of 10-finerprint scanners at six consulates and embassies overseas, Wright said at the FOSE trade show. DHS has spurred companies to develop the new generation of smaller, faster 10-fingerprint scanners during the past year via a series of technical meetings, industry days and technology discussions driven by U.S. Visit's prospective purchase of thousands of the units.

For this summer's tests, U.S. Visit officials plan to deploy the scanners at airports in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Fla., Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Also this summer, officials will launch tests of a reshaped approach to recording the exit of travelers whose movements fall within the program's authority. 'We need to blend [the exit phase of U.S. Visit] in with the departure process,' Wright said.

DHS earlier had tested the use of kiosks, including wireless kiosks, that passengers at airports could use to scan their U.S. Visit documents and record their departures. That process reportedly had difficulties because travelers didn't always find the kiosks easy to use.

In the new exit processing approach, officials plan to combine the U.S. Visit departure processing with one, or possibly more than one, of the three stages during an airborne departure where travelers already stop: departure desk check-in, processing by Transportation Security Administration screeners and processing at the gate.

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