Skip the navigation

TSA to launch registered traveler program

Biometrics will speed frequent fliers through security checkpoints

By Dan Verton
April 9, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week announced that it is seeking proposals from IT vendors for a registered traveler pilot program to help speed and improve the efficiency of security checks for frequent fliers.
IT vendors will have until April 19 to submit proposals to the TSA. The program will start in June at three to five airports and run for approximately 90 days. The TSA said in a statement that it expects between 5,000 and 10,000 travelers to take part.
The TSA plans to use biometric systems, such as fingerprint and iris scanners, as the foundation for registering travelers and conducting expedited security assessments. The agency will conduct the security assessments of those who volunteer for the program and also store and manage all personal biometric data collected from the participants.
The system will include an IT network infrastructure component that will enable integration of the biometric scan results with the results of security assessments stored in a TSA-run Oracle database.
David Lease, chief architect at Herndon, Va.-based WAMNET Government Services, which is involved in designing and building the Navy's massive Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, as well as the National Security Agency's Groundbreaker IT infrastructure program, said the program will be a huge effort from a database perspective.
"The obvious choice is to set up a system that interacts discreetly with the airline and credit card and government databases, and then capture that into XML for input into another system [that can conduct] the analysis," Lease said.
Biometrics-based trusted-traveler programs have been in place for years in other countries. SAGEM Morpho, a biometrics technology company in Tacoma, Wash., for example, is supplying biometrics technology for the registered-traveler program at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in France.
The company is also providing the first nonpilot biometric security installation at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington state. Biometric identity cards will be issued to all airport staff for access into and out of restricted areas of the airport.

David Stevenson, a spokesman for SAGEM Morpho, said incorporating biometrics into the TSA's registered-traveler program is relatively straightforward. However, biometrics is just one part of the big picture, he said. The process and workflow that support the use of the technology may be more difficult to get right, he said.
Six years ago, Plano, Texas-based Electronic Data Systems Corp. completed a similar project for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. Known as Express Entry, the kiosk-based system uses hand geometry biometrics to expedite enrolled members through security checkpoints. Travelers place their hands on a scanner, and the system conducts dozens



Our Commenting Policies