Other Overseas Solutions

By Larry Barrett  |  Posted 2002-10-11 Print this article Print

Despite post-9/11 promises, airport security is still experiencing turbulence.

Other Overseas Solutions

In the Netherlands, IBM has teamed up with the Schiphol Group of Amsterdam—which runs the city's international airport operations—to use iris-scanning technology that verifies travelers by cross-referencing a real-time scan of the eye with data that's stored on an encrypted smart card.

"I wouldn't say the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in terms of technology or the willingness to use biometrics," Goodwin says. "It's just that it's a much more political—and therefore time-consuming—process to get the U.S. government to adopt any technology standard."

It's also important to note that in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv, the iris and hand scans are collected on a voluntary basis. Frequent flyers that know they are going to be in and out of airports on a regular basis willingly submit their scans to avoid long delays at passport checks or terminal check-in stations.

"That's essentially what we're doing with our kiosks," says Melanie Jones, a spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines. United, US Airways, British Airways and Air Canada have been installing these self-service kiosks since 1995.

Southwest recently installed 17 kiosks at Dallas' Love Field and plans to roll them out in 12 more cities. Each kiosk is powered by an IBM PC running either a Windows NT or Windows 2000 operating system, with software called Kiosk Manager. Along with that, the system uses a piece of middleware called CDS to run the on-screen guide.

Rob Ranieri, practice leader for IBM's e-access group, says the kiosks provide all the functionality a user would find at the check-in desk. While none of the Southwest kiosks will employ biometric technology to verify identities, he says it would be relatively simple to add those features later on.

Senior Writer
Larry, of San Carlos, Calif., was a senior writer and editor at CNet, writing analysis, breaking news and opinion stories. He was technology reporter at the San Jose Business Journal from 1996-1997. He graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State University where he was also executive editor of the daily student newspaper.

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