The value of an integrated security platform
In an increasingly networked world, managing the movement and safety of individuals at national borders, public transportation centers, large-scale social and sporting events, corporate offices or university campuses has never been more important.
In response to a heightened concern for global terrorist and criminal activity, enterprises are adopting an integrated and holistic approach to security. As a result, the security industry is undergoing a tremendous period of expansion driven by the arrival of new analytic technologies and improved applications of existing technologies.
For example, only a few years ago analog CCTV was just becoming an accepted tool for security. Today, surveillance cameras are common in large and small retail facilities, banks, buses and trains, and other private industries as well as in public buildings, streets and parks. Frost & Sullivan projects that the global market for video surveillance equipment is poised to grow tremendously as the latest cameras are now digital and Internet-enabled, providing improved image quality and transmission flexibility, and remote pan, tilt and zoom controllability.
Moreover, detection solutions based on advanced technology are extending to cameras, enabling them to detect explosives, uncover chemical and biological weapons, monitor movement across borders from unmanned aerial vehicles, detect suspicious behavior and assist in identifying individuals on watch lists using advanced video analytics – while being as unobtrusive as possible.
Overall, these advances in technology indicate security measures are becoming more proactive rather than simply reactive.
The emergence of biometrics
Devices that use personal characteristics such as fingerprints, face, iris, voice or vascular pattern recognition technology to identify an individual have long been associated with popular science fiction. Clearly, yesterday’s vision is today’s reality. Biometrics are becoming highly effective security tools for authenticating personal identity and access control.
Although most businesses still use passwords to manage system access, more are moving to biometrics as commercial adoption of biometrics follows on the heels of its success within the public sector, where the number of mandates to employ this technology has been considerable. The United States raised the bar in traveler identification when it set the initial requirement that all citizens of visa-waiver countries be required to have electronic passports with biometrics. The International Civil Aviation Organization, the group that sets the standards for travel documents, mandated that e-passports at a minimum have a digitized image of the traveler’s face that can be read by face recognition technology.
Since then, the US, Canada, Australia and other countries have begun issuing passports with biometrics. The Canadian government’s CANPASS system already uses finger print scans to verify the identity of persons moving goods between Canada and its neighbors to the south.
Integrating biometrics into an organization’s security infrastructure makes sense given the technology’s distinct advantages. First, biometrics enhances security by enabling a person to verify his identity for border crossings, facility access or even secure payment transactions. Second, they eliminate the need for passwords that are much more easily compromised. Biometrics also can reduce the time spent in long access control queues and eliminate the need to complete tedious visitor badge request forms. Lastly, biometrics reduce IT service request costs, as there are fewer support issues to address, and voice verification technology can be used to reset locked user accounts.
Not surprisingly, interest groups have raised concerns about intrusion, the right to privacy, profiling and discrimination. But a 2006 study the Poneman Institute conducted on behalf of Unisys revealed that consumers are more concerned about security processes at airports and borders and see biometrics as a viable solution. In fact, nearly 85% of consumers believe that US border security is inadequate, and only half believe the US government is making it a priority. Interestingly, 62% percent of US consumers polled believe that biometrics will have the single greatest impact on enhancing US airport security.
Acuity Market Intelligence projects biometric industry revenues to grow from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $9.9 billion in 2015.
The big picture perspective
An integrated security platform is based on a series of end-to-end risk reduction solutions as they pertain to access control, detection, throughput, admittance documentation, validity and identification.
Implemented appropriately to meet an enterprise’s needs, the right mix and match of security tools and processes provides a comprehensive solution that should enforce the security policies that control individual movement, access and transactions – something physical security alone cannot.
For example, in a fully integrated platform for airline ticket purchase, an electronic payment system would confirm a valid account of the purchaser and automatically trigger a security background check on the traveler based on the business rules the airlines or the government security stakeholder have in place. When the passenger checks in for the flight, ticketing agents would verify the integrity and authenticity of the travel document using machine-readable document verification software.
The next step would be to verify the traveler’s ID against his claim of identification using biometrics. A second check could be made against current watch lists. Baggage tags and boarding passes would be bar-coded or RFID tagged with information linking the bag to the passenger. As the person enters the departure concourse security checkpoint, the security official would confirm ID against the holder’s ticket using biometrics, while scanning the individual using a contraband detection device to detect metal, chemical or biological elements in their possession. As the traveler moves through the terminal, intelligent video surveillance solutions would analyze movement to detect irregular behavior. The final check would occur at the departure gate where biometrics would verify that the individual boarding the fight was the same person to whom the ticket was issued.
To the casual observer, this appears to be a daunting task, but the divergent technologies and processes combined in an integrated, holistic solution would provide a significant enhancement in security while being unobtrusive, more efficient, economical and reassuring.
The reality is that no system can provide complete protection against security threats in an open and free society. However, an end-to-end integrated approach, utilizing the latest technologies and efficient processes, represents the optimal means to balance security needs, sustainable service levels, perceived risk and budget parameters.
These technologies are not intended to eliminate human input but rather to enhance their performance by fostering greater security awareness among the enterprise’s staff and visitors. It is this degree of awareness and assurance that is a welcome comfort in today’s increasingly dynamic and interconnected world.
Ed Schaffner is global director, Physical Security Solutions, Unisys.
Iris on the Move
No single biometric has proven perfect for all purposes, but when Sarnoff introduced “Iris on the Move” in 2005, people took note. Unlike previous scanners that required a subject to be stationary and the eye to be lined up, this portal captures the iris image while the subject is in motion. Subjects need only keep their eyes open and look straight ahead. And it can process up to 20-30 people per minute moving at a normal walking pace through a double-wide doorway.
The system, which could see its first large-scale deployment in transportation security this year, offers intriguing possibilities for its ability to identify one-among-many unknown individuals, determine duplicate identity claims, and execute fully automated real-time identification, even for large populations.
Iris recognition has striking accuracy advantages. Since the iris pattern is virtually unchanged from childhood to old age, enrollment may be once for a lifetime. And it can deliver an exceptionally low false match rate. The technology, however, does have its limitations – enrollment still requires stationary positioning with traditional cueing camera technologies.
Although if offers tremendous possibilities for corporations screening employee entrances or police criminal identification databases, it’s not clear that “on-the-move” image acquisition is sufficient for purposes such as law enforcement watch list processing, capturing images of impostors who fail verification for subsequent matching, etc. However, combined with other technologies, those hurdles could be overcome.
When Transport Canada announced the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Port of Halifax went looking for a new credentialing process for its 4,000 port workers. Though employees had identification cards, it needed a system to authenticate the identity of cardholders. The system also had to be non-intrusive to labour, which had concerns about the storage of personal information on databases and biometrics such as fingerprints and facial recognition.
Furthermore, the process needed to be operational on automated gates, turnstiles and access portals both in buildings and outside. After ruling out hand geometry, which was affected by Halifax’s notoriously ever-changing weather, Gord Helm, manager of port security and marine operations, challenged industry to offer a solution.
Last fall, the port completed a trial with Unisys Canada for vascular technology, an infrared scan of the back of the hand embedded in a smart card. “It provides us, as far as I know, with as good or better biometric authentication as any other process that exists,” Helm said. “You can’t fake it as you can with fingerprints or other technology.”
Employees must still enroll at a credentialing office, but because personal data is retained on the employee’s card, and only verified between card and reader, the system was readily accepted by labour.
The fully automated system provides instant verification, eliminating lines and delays at certain check points, and can limit access as required. Helm expects to have the system and infrastructure fully deployed by February.