Indian Airports Turn to Biometric Access Control

A biometric-based airport access control system for airport employees and officials is soon going to be a reality at major airports in the country. In a bid to remove possibilities of human error in monitoring movement of airport staff within airport premises, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has laid down basic minimum specifications for a biometric-based access control system and has directed major airports to put it in place.

"We have fixed the basic minimum specifications for these equipment and have asked around 17-18 big airports to have them in place. The respective airport operators will procure these systems and install them at their own cost," BCAS Commissioner of Security S R Mehra said.

Under the system, BCAS has proposed a Secure Contactless Card having a biometric template stored within, allowing multi-factor authentication. The card will have details like the fingerprints or iris of an individual and will ensure that only authorised personnel get access inside airports.

"The doors and access points will be open only to authorised personnel after they have been identified by the system. Each entry and exit would be logged centrally for future reference and the system would also be able to generate any level of information required on the persons available in the building at any given point of time," a BCAS official said, adding that the system would provide comprehensive historical data of all personnel who have visited the building.

Currently, entry and exit gates are manned by CISF officials, and IDs of all personnel entering airport buildings are physically checked. Personnel working at airports are currently issued simple plastic ID cards for accessing the secured areas in the airport, using a colour-coding scheme.

BCAS officials said that the current system ensures that there is no mechanism to monitor the movement of personnel inside the premises and no means of knowing whether an individual is on duty. Further, there is the possibility of unauthorised individuals entering the premises using forged, stolen, or expired identification cards or gaining access because of their familiarity with the security procedures, they added.

(Indian Express -- 04/27/07)