Smart Card Alliance Members Form Physical Access Council

The Smart Card Alliance has announced the organization of a new Physical Access Council, a group comprised of leaders from government and industry sectors. The council will be facing the challenges of implementing the latest access control systems, many of which use smart cards incorporating digital and biometric data.

According to Bob Merkert, director of strategic planning for card reader manufacturer SCM Microsystems and chair of the new council, the council primarily will be facing issues of implementing and meeting the standards for a unified access and logical control card as spelled out by Presidential Directive No. 12.

The directive, made by President Bush, calls for a single identity verification card that would serve as a controller for physical access and network/data access at federal facilities. The card would be required equipment for employees as well as contractors for these facilities, and would include biometric data in addition to personal data.

The council includes end-users, integrators, and manufacturers of products in the physical access control and smart card industries, including representatives from AMAG Technology, Axalto, Northrop Grumman, MAXIMUS, Philips, SCM Microsystems and the Department of Homeland Security, and is open to any interested Smart Card Alliance members who are willing to contribute.

The council is steered by Bob Merkert (chair), Dwayne Pfeiffer (vice chair) from Northrop Grumman and Steve Rogers (Integrated Engineering), and council has scheduled its next meeting at the Fourth Annual Smart Cards in eGovernment Conference and Exhibition, hosted by the Smart Card Alliance, and held March 9-11, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with SecurityInfoWatch, Merkert said that the council's goal is to help increase adoption of smart card usage for physical access.

"By creating a standard of interoperability, it will increase adoption of smart cards for physical access," said Merkert.

He said that an interoperability standard for the government will also mean changes in the private sector too.

"I think that once the government has a standard, the companies that are dealing with the government will have to use the same standards, so the standards will be put in place outside the government," said Merkert. "I think it will also have a trickle-down effect on the corporate environment."

But for now, government standards like those appearing in special publications 800-73 and 800-76 will have to be tested, refined and studied for implementation.

"As an industry, to gain interoperability, we have to find what we will need to do in common to meet these standards," notes Merkert.