FLO Alliance gets closer to deployment
KIRKLAND, Wash.--Targeting the second quarter of 2007 for beginning operation of its Registered Traveler solution that would expedite airport security for its members, the FLO Alliance, led by Saflink, announced a number of progressive steps in September.
The Alliance, which also includes Microsoft, Johnson Controls, JP Morgan Chase, and ID Technology Partners, has brought Smiths Detection into the fold to provide scanning technology. GE, the other major manufacturer of airport screening devices, announced earlier this year a partnership with Verified Identity Pass, the FLO competitor headed by entrepreneur Steven Brill and including Lockheed Martin.
"GE went with Verified," explained Glenn Argenbright, Saflink chairman, president, and general manager of Registered Traveler Solutions, a new division within Saflink. "Some people would assume that we then jumped and went to Smiths. The reality is that it worked out right. We've been looking at Smiths and screening technologies for roughly two years. I can't speak for Verified, but, in our instance, Smiths was a better fit for us."
Argenbright cited Smiths' puffer, which "goes to the shoes," and its intended incorporation of a shoe scanner into the puffer device, as particularly attractive, versus GE's puffer, which "didn't do the shoes." In FLO's search for services that will entice travelers to pay $80 or more per year for membership, "we definitely wanted shoes, coats, and definitely laptops," he said. Smiths could deliver all three and the company also offers a "tremendous international presence," whereas the rest of the alliance is predominantly North American.
The FLO Alliance is now accepting applications for membership, which involves a thorough background check by the Transportation Security Administration. Currently, only the Orlando airport is doing Registered Traveler, and that's administered by Verified. However, Argenbright expected to see airports, including Indianapolis, Santa Cruz, and Cincinnati (again all Verified customers, but there will be reciprocity for cards), and Denver enrolling members in late November. And "my hope," he said, "would be that in February as many as 11 markets are issuing cards, and that gives this program some real value."
Despite integrator Johnson Controls being present in the Alliance, Argenbright said that as more airports come on board, there will be a need for local integrators to help with the installation of FLO lanes, in which will be invested an estimated $1 million per lane. For instance, in Denver, FLO worked with Civil Technologies, who've been working for 15 years with the Denver airport and had an established relationship with the facility.
The FLO lanes may only be the beginning. Argenbright cited an intention to also work on expedited baggage handling, and still expects FLO lanes to eventually show up at non-airport venues like sporting stadiums and concert venues, anywhere that people gather and security is a concern.