EDS Eyes Air Travel Security

Integrated biometric, smart-card, complex data management services respond to airport/airline needs.

Electronic Data Systems Corp. last week launched a suite of integrated offerings to bolster the security of airline passengers, airline and airport personnel, and airport facilities.

The services blend a mix of technologies, including biometrics, smart cards and complex data management, to help clients better secure air travel.

"Since Sept. 11, weve responded with the physical pieces of security. Now we need to step to the next level ... to put in place an IT infrastructure to enhance the safety of travelers," said Jim Dullum, president of EDS Global Transportation Industry Group, in Las Vegas.

The "key elements of passenger security" include a central database that allows airlines to screen passengers from the time they make a reservation, biometric technology to identify and move known travelers through the security process, and other technologies to better handle unknown travelers, Dullum said.

Topping the list of offerings in the suite is a passenger risk scoring system, designed to alert authorities when a potentially threatening passenger seeks to buy a plane ticket. EDS has proposed the client/server system as a national standard, Dullum said. It is already in use by a handful of the countrys largest airlines.

Another component of the suite, passenger authentication, uses biometric technology to identify trusted people in airports so authorities can focus on lesser-known people.

As a part of the biometrics offering, EDS announced it has formed a partnership with Identix Inc., which supplies biometric systems.

EDS demonstrated an airport biometric system in use today at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel—one of the most secure airports in the world. It has already authenticated more than 1 million people by matching a smart card to each hand print. The process, which takes 30 seconds, has cut down wait times at security checkpoints, according to Dullum.

The biometrics-enabled smart-card system is also used in a service offering designed to authenticate airport employees and control access at critical locations.

The airport/airlines security service suite also addresses boarding control to ensure that all passengers board an aircraft and that unaccompanied baggage is removed from an aircraft quickly.

In addition, EDS addressed airport perimeter security in its service suite. The offering is based on radio frequency technology used to track airport vehicles and determine access to restricted areas. It also employs video inspection systems.

EDS new offerings are an attempt to grab the spotlight thats now on security. But what its offering isnt new to the security consulting arena, said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass.

In other security news, EDS announced that it has added a senior-executive-level course in its Cyber Security Institute. The new CXO Workshop for CEOs describes how security and privacy fit in the business environment and how they relate to commerce, according to Al Decker, director of global security services for EDS.

EDS also launched three new tools for use by consultants to help customers implement security and privacy initiatives. They include a Security Assessment Tool, Privacy Assessment Tool and a Cyber Risk Management Assessment Tool.