Unisys' hand-scan plan

Integrator teams with SimplexGrinnell, Identica and others for Port of Halifax biometric solution
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Monday, October 1, 2007

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia--Unisys Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unisys and an integrator of security solutions, announced in August a contract with the Port of Halifax here to create and manage a biometric credentialing and access control database system. Notably, Unisys has chosen Identica's vascular scan technology to verify the identities of some 4,000 port workers.
Bob Binns, president of Unisys Canada, said the company evaluated a number of biometric solutions, and went with vascular technology for a number of reasons. For one thing, "It's an alive technology," he said. "It's an infrared scan of the hand, and you're really looking at blood vessels, which are living things." Thus, the old canard about cutting off someone's finger to use as an access device is made moot.
The decision was made alongside Gord Helm, the security director at the Port of Halifax, who said he learned from the experiences of his peers in the airline industry. While they went with fingerprint and iris scans, he said, "at the end of the day, while they're just as effective with authentication at an access point [as vascular recognition], they're not more effective, and especially in outside environments they're less effective."
Further, he said, feedback from the unions representing the workforce at the port told him that workers were hesitant to place their eyes in an iris-scanning device and "people don't want their fingerprints on file." The Identica solution combines the vascular scan with a number created by a worker's scan and stored on a smart card. Rather than authenticating to a centrally stored database, the scan authenticates to the card.
"At the end of the day, the vascular scan eliminated all the apprehension from the work force," said Helm, "plus it offered a very flexible and open architecture." Identica president Terry Wheeler said that was no accident.
"We made our Wiegand integration very simple right out of the box," he said. On top of that, our controllers have an IP interface, and our SDK allows any third party to access our device."
In this case, SimplexGrinnell integrated the Identica scanner with Lenel's OnGuard access control software, which forms the "backbone" of the credentialing system. SimplexGrinnell is providing much of the deployment expertise for the job, which is expected to be completed by November.