L.A. Airports Prepare For Biometric ID Security

Sunday, November 20, 2011
By Paul Martin

Brian Heaton
GovTech.com

Three Los Angeles-area airports are replacing their identification card reader systems and prepping security infrastructure for an eventual upgrade to biometric-based identification.

Los Angeles International, LA/Ontario International and Van Nuys airports are moving from a magnetic swipe card system to a contactless “proximity reader.” As the work is done, infrastructure is being rolled out to use iris scan or other biometric identification technology beginning in 2012.

Dominic Nessi, deputy executive director and CIO of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which oversees operations at the three airports, said replacement of the access control and alarm monitoring system’s magnetic card readers is done regularly as the equipment and swipe cards wear out.

But instead of doing the work piecemeal, LAWA elected to change out the entire system and get a head start on the infrastructure improvements. While the organization currently favors the future use of iris scan technology, LAWA is keeping its options open regarding biometric security in the coming year.

“What we are doing in this current project is putting the wiring in place so we can add biometric readers, irrespective of the technology,” Nessi said. “By December of next year, we’ll either reaffirm our decision to utilize iris scan technology or we’ll review other technologies that may have entered the market by that time.”

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