Pointing the way, one finger scan at a time

Cross Match wins high-profiled US-VISIT contract with the DHS
Sunday, February 1, 2004

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - A small biometric fingerprint company here has garnered perhaps the most high-profile contract related to the country’s homeland security effort.

Cross Match Technologies’ fingerprint scanner has been selected as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program, a program that places the scanners in 115 U.S. airports and 14 cruise ship terminals to track most foreign visitors.

The project is considered the single largest deployment of biometric technology by Cross Match Technologies, said Tim Murray, chief operating officer of Cross Match Technologies. Murray estimates the company has supplied more than 2,000 devices as part of the US-VISIT program.

“It represents an important milestone in the market of biometrics,” he said, noting that this large-scale deployment proves that applications of this size work.

Cross Match Technologies built a reputation for itself by first working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Three engineers founded the company in 1996 after learning that the FBI needed to convert 40 million fingerprint cards into an electronic form.

But unlike other biometric fingerprint technology design for authentication uses, such as determining whether someone should be entering a door or building, Cross Match Technologies’ device is geared towards the identification market.

The Department of Homeland Security began testing Cross Match Technologies’ device, the Verifier 300 LC, and the new procedure in mid-November at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The device works with software provided by Lockheed Martin. All told, scanning of both index fingers and taking a digital photograph of foreign nationals traveling with visas added an average of 15 seconds to the entry process.

The first phase of the US-VISIT program formally launched in early January, with a second phase expected for later in the year. The second phase could expand to include 50 other seaports.

Murray said that contract has yet to be awarded, but Cross Match Technologies will work towards winning that phase of the project as well.