Biometric access control pilot project adding more airports

Standards project tests biometric procedures for category X and I airports

In the fourth phase airports will integrate biometrics into their access control system. Current plans for biometric enabled access control allow for various modalities to be used, such as fingerprints, hand geometry or something else. At some smaller airports it may not make sense to have biometrics on the door and instead mobile readers could be used, Beckman says.

"It's not one size fits all," she says.

There are no firm dates for the airports getting through all the phases, Beckman says. AAAE's Morris says that unlike a typical government pilot project that ends and is analyzed for how to proceed next, under BASIC the participating airports will be implementing biometrics for access control as part of their standard operating procedures and will share their expertise with other airports.

Beckman also says that given the poor economy and how it may impact each airport differently also plays into how much time one airport or another is devoting to biometric access control.

Indeed, Portland International Airport, which is one of the six airports that is in the initial phases of BASIC, has budgeted to complete its project in three years. However, given the more difficult financial environment and the need to juggle other big projects the airport's BASIC effort may be stretched further, Mark Crosby, the chief public safety officer for the Port of Portland, tells TR2.

When the airport moves into the third phase of BASIC is when the big investment will have to be made to switch out the cards and readers, Crosby says.

Portland International's employee access control system currently is based on a credential that has a magnetic stripe and a PIN, Crosby says.

Biometrics are coming, he says. "It's a natural evolution of access control."

Portland hasn't decided yet which biometric modality it will use for access control, Crosby says. The airport may also switch its credential to a proximity card as well, he notes.