News Archive

Airport Biometric

by msecadm4921

In the US, Covenant Aviation Security, a private company that was awarded a Transportation Security Administration contract to protect San Francisco Airport, the USA’s fifth busiest, from terrorism, is using biometric readers.

In the US, Covenant Aviation Security, a private company that was awarded a Transportation Security Administration contract to protect San Francisco Airport, the USA’s fifth busiest, from terrorism, is using biometric HandReaders to verify employee identities before granting them access to their work areas.
HandReaders from Recognition Systems automatically take a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape of a hand and verify the user’s identity in less than one second.  Hand geometry is the most commonly used technology for access control and time and attendance, according to Frost and Sullivan’s “World Biometrics Report.”

What they say

“After Covenant Aviation Security was awarded the TSA’s private passenger screening contract at San Francisco International Airport in October of 2002, it was crucial to have a system in place that accurately and consistently identified our more than 1,200 employees arriving and departing work every day,” explains Tom Long, Executive Vice President of Covenant.  “Since day one, our IR Recognition Systems’ biometric HandPunch 4000 has provided us with a quality product that we will continue to depend on at San Francisco International Airport.”
HandReaders handle any population volume with ease while providing impeccable reliability.  With dramatically lower false reject and failure to enroll rates than other biometric technologies, the value of HandReaders grows as the number of users and/or transactions increases.  With so many people working at San Francisco Airport, HandReaders were essential.
Covenant employees perform all the functions provided by regular TSA employees at other airports, including screening passengers, running X-ray machines, checking baggage, and manning security checkpoints.  Before beginning their shifts, employees must pass through an area where their identities are checked with HandReaders.
“Ensuring that employees are who they say they are is critical to securing the airport,” explains James Wendt, co-owner of Time & Technology (Neenah, Wis.), which specializes in biometric time and attendance and security solutions.  “We pushed strongly for the use of hand geometry at the airport because we’ve been using it since the late ’80s and its track record is just phenomenal.”
On November 19, 2001, President Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which, among other things, established a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the Department of Transportation.  The TSA Service is charged with ensuring passenger security while still allowing for freedom of travel.

Pilot programme

San Francisco International is among five airports nationwide participating in a pilot programme that allows private companies to provide passenger and baggage screening as specified in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.  The other four participating airports are Kansas City International Airport, Tupelo Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport and Jackson Hole Airport.  Federalized screeners trained and deployed by TSA staff the remaining 424 commercial airports. “Covenant is being relied upon by the federal government to provide homeland security at San Francisco Airport. There can be no question about the validity of the data,” Wendt adds.  “With the HandReaders, we know the identity of the employee is 100 percent accurate.” These new HandReaders are in addition to those previously employed at SFO. 

Some background

Since 1991, San Francisco International Airport has employed biometric hand geometry readers to secure its air operations area (AOA), allowing access to authorized individuals only. 
The system has produced more than 100 million biometric verifications, with more than 25,000 produced per day. The HandReaders span the entire airport, securing more than 180 doors and verifying the identity of more than 18,000 employees. The use of biometrics at San Francisco is airport-wide and fully integrated into the primary access control system, the firms say.

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