Vehicle access control has a diversity of solutions including wireless and biometrics-based applications.

Less than a decade ago, highway transit authorities needed a convenient, user-friendly way to identify vehicles and collect tolls while simultaneously reducing delays at collection points.  Today, EZ-Pass and Fast Lane transmitters are widely accepted, successful solutions that support the collection of revenue on toll highways while keeping traffic flowing. A similar, but potentially even more critical need is now facing enterprises that operate vehicle gates at secure government and commercial facilities – how can vehicles and drivers be properly identified before allowing them access to the facility without causing back-ups?

Military bases, for example, are seeing significant increases in traffic volume as more and more businesses that serve the government are now located within bases’ secure boundaries. Currently, vehicles attempting to access the facility must come to a complete stop for a manual inspection of identity credentials, or to perform some type of biometric identity verification at the gate. This approach results in significant backups during periods of high traffic. Beyond extending daily commute times for employees and causing productivity losses for employers, these traffic backups are impacting surrounding communities as vehicle lines reach into residential neighborhoods and commercial areas. Yet another more global concern is the pollution generated by large numbers of vehicles sitting in stop and go traffic.


The need for identity verification is very real and can’t be overlooked. Secure facilities, whether a port, military base or commercial enterprise, require reliable identity verification in order to meet strict security regulations. In many cases gate operators must not only verify that each vehicle has clearance, but also that the driver is who he or she claims to be, and belongs with that specific vehicle. A known vehicle with an unknown driver may present more of a risk than a completely unknown vehicle.

Traditional identification methods that require a full stop simply aren’t capable of keeping up with the increases in vehicle traffic at these facilities. A logical, but not so practical solution is the addition of new lanes, involving expensive capital construction projects and resulting in manpower increases for new guards. The military, for example, is currently spending half a billion dollars annually to properly staff vehicle gates. A “fast lane” would be ideal -- but it would have to meet very special requirements. Only known vehicles, with known drivers, would be allowed through without stopping, reserving the traditional “full stop” inspection only for visitors. Putting such a concept into practice involves some unique challenges.


RFID windshield tags similar to those used on public toll roads are an effective way of identifying vehicles, but while it identifies the vehicle, it doesn’t verify the driver’s identity, perhaps the most critical part of the problem. Advances in two fields of technology – wireless communications and biometrics – have made an entirely new approach to gate access possible. Wireless biometrics can now provide a secure “fast lane” that ensures positive identification of the vehicle and the driver.


Historically, biometrics readers have been affixed to doors and gates, and are permanent, mounted devices. It is now possible to incorporate a fingerprint reader into a tiny personal device the size of a key fob – thereby putting a biometric reader in the hands of every user. The same fob can communicate wirelessly at distances of up to 100 meters (300 feet) to enable biometrically assured gate access at speeds of 15 – 20 mph.

Here’s how it works – as a vehicle approaches a gate, drivers swipe their finger across their personal biometric fob. It compares their live finger to the fingerprint template that was securely stored in their fob when it was issued. After the driver’s identity has been verified, which proves that the device is in the hand of the rightful owner, the fob transmits encrypted credential data via 802.15.4, (an IEEE standard for wireless communications operating at 2.4 Ghz).

The data is received by a transceiver, which decrypts the credential information and passes it to an external gate control system to confirm that the user is authorized for access.  The gate is then opened.  The entire transaction takes approximately two seconds.

The facility reaps all of the benefits of reliable identity verification without requiring vehicles to stop, or even roll down a window. The result is a dramatic reduction in traffic backups with no compromise in security. In fact this approach provides significantly heightened levels of security at gates as compared to most manual approaches, which just inspect photo IDs, and often from afar.


Modern society has an unprecedented need for security, yet that need has to be reconciled with the realities of commercial business. This new approach to an age old problem promises to achieve those often competing goals for secure facilities, while reducing costs and addressing a common evil of modern society – traffic.

About the Source

Security Magazine thanks John Petze, CEO, Privaris, for the information in this article.

Hand-held video cameras working with automatic license plate recognition software aim at enterprises, parking firms and law enforcement.

SIDEBAR: Mobile Video Has Role with Law Enforcement, Corporate Parking

Automatic license plate recognition systems (ALPR), which can work locally or communicate wirelessly, are playing an identification and access control role. The hand-held ALPR camera/illuminator is used by police for the immediate identification of wanted vehicles.  The list of wanted vehicles can be loaded directly to a laptop in the police car and within about 200 milliseconds of seeing a license plate that is on the list, the officer will be alerted of a match. For example, the firm INEX/ZAMIR provides the camera/illuminator, the ALPR software and the alert messaging system software. The company provides a Wizard to facilitate the loading of any database onto the laptop. The hand-held camera/illuminator is plugged directly into a cigarette lighter adapter in the vehicle and the USB port of the laptop and needs no other hardware.  This system was developed to meet the request of police departments who did not want to mount a lot of expensive equipment permanently to a vehicle and have to add processors in the trunk, along with special power supplies; this system simply moves from vehicle to vehicle as needed.   Although this equipment can read vehicles at 120 mph, it has also found other uses in parking applications for lot inventories, security and on-street violation enforcement.

Access must reflect both security needs as well as the facility’s culture. At the Stetson Mansion in DeLand, Fla., a dual gate operating system allows gates to open and close in the majestic manner that mirrors the home and grounds.

SIDEBAR: Keypad, Wireless Intercom at the Gate

Historic Stetson Mansion, DeLand, Fla., now employs a wireless entry intercom and keypad system to both secure and open the way to its home that’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by noted architect George T. Pearson in 1886, the mansion has been going through an extensive adaptive restoration. The home, school house and gardens are being updated as if John B. Stetson still inhabited his winter home and wanted it upgraded with the finest modern accessories and conveniences. By the way, Stetson is world-recognized for the Stetson hat, an icon of the Wild West. Ironically, he crafted the hats in Philadelphia. Among those who had custom-made Stetson hats were “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, Annie Oakley, Pawnee Bill, Tom Mix and the mythical “Lone Ranger.”

His southern home was in DeLand, on the northeast coast of Florida. “When we looked at the entrance to the mansion, we determined that the technology from GTO would be ideal for the property,” said Michael Solari, installation manager for the Stetson Mansion. The “dual gate operating system allows our gates to open and close in the majestic manner that mirrors the home and grounds.”

The system supports gates up to 650 lbs. and up to 16-feet long per leaf. The system includes a 12-volt battery that provides back up during any power outage and an optional activation alarm. Its soft/start-soft/stop system reduces mechanical stress on operator and gate. It is UL325 certified and listed.

The wireless intercom/keypad system consists of an indoor base unit and an outdoor stand-alone intercom and keypad. Up to 25 entry codes can be programmed into the keypad. It allows visitors to “call” the indoor base station, allowing those inside the mansion to select whom to grant access to the property.