IBM Looks Airline Security in the Eye

Signs Agreement With Schiphol Group to Bring Biometric Iris Scanning System to Airlines and Airports

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y - 25 Apr 2002: April 25, 2002--IBM is joining with Schiphol Group of Amsterdam to offer airlines and airports around the world a quick security access system that uses biometric iris scanning technology.

The new offering will be based on the existing Automatic Border Passage (ABP) system Schiphol Group has deployed at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This system identifies and verifies travelers by cross referencing a real-time iris scan with the travelers' pre-registered iris data -- which is stored on an encrypted smart card. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was the world's first airport to employ a new automatic border passage system using iris recognition for passengers in a high-security environment.

The ABP system, which has been in operation since October 2001, is currently used for identity verification and border passage functions, supplementary to manual passport control by the Dutch border police. It runs on IBM eServer xSeries and uses an IBM DB2 database to access non-biometric related passenger data. IBM will work with Schiphol Group to extend a subset of the biometric security features in this system so it can be used by airlines and airports for passenger identification and tracking in functions such as ticketing, check in, screening and boarding. Additionally, the companies plan to develop components of the technology to provide secure employee and staff access to restricted areas of travel and transportation facilities.

Editors Note: Photos of the current system used at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport are available at: (Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser's URL address field.)

Demonstrations can also be arranged on site at Schiphol Airport.

Under terms of the agreement, IBM will team with Schiphol Group to market the new solution to airlines and airports. It will also perform all systems integration for the solution, provide the necessary hardware and software, and assist Schiphol Group in modifying the system to develop new solutions and security components to meet evolving security requirements. The core security solution behind Schiphol Group's Automatic Border Passage system will be supplied through a joint venture Schiphol Group has formed with Joh. Enschede Security Solutions B.V., a specialist Dutch security solutions company that supplied the technology for iris recognition and storage of iris information on smart cards. Schiphol Group is the intellectual proprietor of the border passage concept employing iris recognition.

"IBM's worldwide reach, systems integration skills and airline industry insight and expertise make it the ideal company to help us deploy this biometric technology for airport security, enabling a sense of security and convenience for today's travelers,'' said Pieter Verboom, CFO of Schiphol Group.

"The system's ability to process four-to-five people per minute and provide highly reliable, machine-made decisions on whether the person actually is who he or she claims to be, will go a long way towards meeting travelers' demands for security, convenience and speed, '' said Mike Hulley, general manager, IBM Global Travel & Transportation Industry group.

The security procedure for this solution involves two phases. In the first phase, the traveler is qualified and registered. This process, which includes a passport review, background check, and iris scan that is encrypted and embedded on a smart card, usually takes about 15 minutes. Currently the solution at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is offered to members of Privium, the airport's new service programme open to holders of European Economic Area passports (EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) that is independent of airline frequent flier programs. Currently, some 2,500 people are using the Privium service programme. IBM and Schiphol Group have indicated that this model can be varied at new installations as the customer and circumstances demand.

The second phase identifies and verifies the registered traveler at the border passage checkpoint. This is done when the traveler approaches a gated kiosk and inserts a smart card in the kiosk card reader. The system reads the smart card and allows valid registered travelers to enter an isolated area. The traveler then looks into an iris scan camera so that the iris can be matched with the data on the smartcard. If a successful match is obtained, the passenger can continue to the gate. If the biometric analysis fails, or the traveler's passage is not authorized by any external system link, the automatic gate directs the traveler to the front of the queue for the standard manual passport check. The entire automatic border passage procedure is typically completed in about 10-15 seconds.

By adding dedicated software to the iris scanner's standard software, Schiphol Group has designed the system so that it does not use a database but can receive data from a smartcard chip, which means there is no sharing of the iris information. The use of individual smart cards to hold the biometric data rather than a biometrics database, coupled with the fact that program enrollment is voluntary, has eased concerns about privacy. Due to a strict separation of data on the chip, the card reader is also able to read the Dutch Border Police data independently from the biometric information, further easing privacy concerns.

"We chose iris biometric technology because of its security and reliability as well as the fact that it is a non-contact system,'' said Verboom. The core iris scanning technology has been enhanced by Johan Enschede Security Solutions to ensure high performance and accuracy. Consequently the verification process has been drastically improved and currently is about 50 percent faster than the standard software. Additionally since the system involves no physical contact, such as fingerprint or hand geometry biometrics, there are no concerns regarding hygienics and no extra time is required for cleaning and maintenance of the unit.

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