High security needs and reaction to the homeland security effort have spurred more use of biometrics—even systems that use two identifiers.

One generator of developments is the “Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act,” which will fund what government officials call machine-readable tamper-resistant visas and other machine-readable travel documents. The plan here is for the use of at least two biometric identifiers.

Government ID Push

In the publication Federal Computer Week, Steve Cooper, chief information officer in the Office of Homeland Security, was quoted as saying that fingerprints, facial recognition, retina scans and iris scans may be used on government ID cards.

In that article and in other media reports, it is clear that “the administration foresees a nation that relies much more heavily on high-tech identification for purposes that range from gaining access to the country to gaining access to a computer.”

“The homeland security national strategy calls for creating ‘smart borders’ that rely on biometric identification systems to identify terrorists and criminals. Biometrics should also be used to combat fraud in travel documents,” the strategy says.

“Fingerprints and facial recognition technology are the favored biometric technologies at present,” Cooper says. But retina and iris scans and other technologies are likely to grow more capable and gain wider acceptance, he says. The administration’s policy is not to favor any particular biometric technologies, but to develop identification systems that can accommodate many.

“To be acceptable to the federal government, smart cards, for example, would have to be able to accommodate more than one biometric identifier. That’s because different agencies have already adopted favorite technologies,” Cooper says.

“The State Department has invested heavily in facial recognition as its primary identification system, but the FBI is wedded to fingerprints. And neither is likely to give up its favorite,” Cooper said. So a government smart card that can be used to control building access should be able to accommodate both, he says.

“And the card that gets government workers into their buildings should also control their access to computer systems, serve as a trusted traveler card and perform other identification-dependent functions,” he said.

There are numerous methods of achieving the goal of higher level identification. One company, Datastrip of Exton, Pa., has a technology approach based on two-dimensional bar codes. The approach is less expensive and easier to apply that emerging smart cards.

Datastrip produces 2D SUPERSCRIPT, a high-density two-dimensional bar code symbology along with the new DS VERIFY2D, a two-dimensional bar code reader and fingerprint verification device. Datastrip offers a 32-bit software developer’s kit, (SDK) which allow systems integrators and developers the ability to add 2D SUPERSCRIPT to any application ensuring easy integration.

Bar Code Approach

Says Charles Lynch, vice president sales and marketing, Datatstrip, “We have products that employ 2D bar code that enables storage of a great amount of information—demographic information, health information, in a space roughly that of a magnetic stripe.”

The information can contain a color photo of a person or an iris (biometric) template. “What is stored is totally up to the end user,” says Lynch. “It is cost-effective technology.”

Hardware in this application includes the DS Verify, which is portable and weighs less than three pounds.

Adds Lynch, “For identification, we are working on a product that uses 2D for access control.”