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Testimony by Martin Huddart, General Manager, Recognition Systems, Inc.
Before the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information
Hearing on: “Biometric Identifiers and the Modern Fact of Terror:
New Technologies in the Global War on Terrorism
Dirksen Senate Office Building / Room 226 / 10:00 a.m.
November 14, 2001
Washington, D.C.

Madam Chairwoman and members of the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information:

Good morning. I am Martin Huddart, General Manager of Recognition Systems, Inc. (RSI) based in Campbell, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

We are a pioneer in the application of biometric systems. Our primary technology is Hand Geometry. RSI’s HandReaders have been installed in high security environments around the United States and worldwide since 1985. Today, there are more than 60,000 HandReader systems installed in 80 countries around the world, reading millions of hands every day. We are the industry leader in providing biometric technology solutions that protect important U.S. economic, energy, military, and transportation infrastructure.

RSI is a division of Ingersoll-Rand Company (IR), a Fortune 200 diversified industrial manufacturer and a world leader in security and safety. RSI and IR provide integrated security solutions – including hardware, biometrics and electronic technologies, software applications, maintenance and consulting services to government, military, commercial and industrial customers.

RSI’s technology solutions have been installed in high-security, high volume access control environments for more than a decade. These include over 90 percent of the nation’s nuclear power plants, as well as in leading scientific laboratories, Federal prisons, commercial airports, U.S. military bases, seaport cargo facilities, hospitals, universities, government buildings, industrial plants and commercial office buildings. Our technology is even used at day care centers to protect unauthorized persons from having access to the children.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, one task is certain: we must significantly increase and upgrade security not only at U.S. commercial airports, but at other critical national infrastructure that could potentially be targeted by terrorists. The President’s establishment of the Office of Homeland Security is an important initiative to better coordinate the efforts of more than 40 Federal agencies. Hearings like this – and others that RSI has participated in the past month – can help legislators better understand existing and new technologies, enabling you to make critical policy decisions that will better protect America’s important infrastructure from future terrorist attacks.

Biometric systems lie at the core of technologies that can provide heightened security at a variety of infrastructure installations. Biometrics is the science of using physical characteristics to identify an individual. Modern biometric systems were developed in the 1970s. Early commercial products were expensive and therefore limited to very high security applications, such as nuclear facilities and laboratories. In recent years, developments in microprocessors and advanced imaging electronics have greatly reduced the cost and increased the accuracy of biometric devices. These developments have made biometrics increasingly common in commercial applications for access control, and even accurate personnel time and attendance monitoring.

RSI’s HandReader was designed to be used in high-volume environments, where the identity of hundreds or even thousands of individuals must be accurately verified in a quick and efficient manner. These devices ensure that only authorized individuals gain access to specific places. This technology has been engineered to work reliably for a wide variety of users in difficult operating environments, including even sub-zero outdoor applications. The accuracy, reliability, durability and successful track record of biometric hand reading technology is unparalleled in the industry.

Members of Congress and Federal and local authorities have been inundated with proposals for new technologies since September 11. This includes many different biometric systems, including hand, iris, fingerprint, facial and voice recognition. While there is no disagreement that technology has a vital role in finding new security solutions for U.S. infrastructure, we must understand that this is not the time to experiment with new and unproven systems. Only those technologies and products that have already been proven in high-security environments, and which have an established reputation for performance, should be in the forefront of our decision-making processes in the weeks and months ahead.

To this end, one fact is well-established and should be clear: Of all the biometric systems currently in use, hand readers are the technology that today best meets the essential tests of performance and reliability in high-security environments. This is a mature system that can be put in place quickly to meet a variety of security applications. That is what differentiates this technology from others.

This technology can be used for different types of security applications. One is preventing unauthorized employees from gaining access to specific areas and assets. Another is to quickly and efficiently identify low-risk users, such as pre-screened airport passengers, so that security personnel can focus on a much smaller category of people – high-risk passengers. RSI HandReaders can reduce the size of the haystack, so we have better chance of finding the needle in it.

RSI has worked with several U.S. Government agencies over many years to incorporate biometric systems into their security infrastructure. We have worked with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Energy, General Services Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Drug Enforcement Agency, The Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation and most branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The Department of Energy has long realized the weaknesses of conventional card based access control systems at nuclear facilities. Concerned with stolen or forged access cards, 90% of the nation’s nuclear facilities installed HandReaders at sensitive access points during the 1990s. These installations are not new, they are not a test, and they work reliably.

Given the new security concerns created by the terrorist attacks of September 11, I would propose that this proven model of security needs to be applied to other critical elements of our national infrastructure such as airports, power plants, chemical plants, port facilities, and transportation control facilities. There is a critical role for Congress and Federal regulatory agencies to play in mandating that new security procedures and technologies be put in place.

Nowhere is there a more immediate security challenge to address than that of U.S. commercial airports. Already, this Congress and the Department of Transportation have proposed several new initiatives. Some of these will take time to implement. One example of how we can very quickly improve airport security would be for Congress to improve existing Federal regulations to reflect the new security environment we all face. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration’s directive FAR 107.14a mandates that only authorized people are allowed access to flight operations at commercial airports. Most airport authorities used card-based access systems to implement this mandate. These systems are inadequate because they can only accurately identify cards, not people. Only a biometric system that reads an individual’s hand to provide positive identification of that person can do this.

One U.S. airport which has correctly interpreted the intent of this FAA mandate is San Francisco International Airport (SFO). At SFO, all 30,000 airport employees use RSI HandReaders throughout the entire facility. This is not a pilot program or a demonstration project; it is an integral component of the airport’s security infrastructure. It has been in place for more than a decade. This system was installed during the Chairwoman’s tenure as Mayor of San Francisco. I would urge other members of the Subcommittee and the Congress to examine how this technology has been used at SFO and to consider utilizing it throughout our national air transportation system.

In addition, while we applaud the Federal government’s interest in exploring new security technologies through “pilot” projects, we must understand that these will take time to identify, test and implement. Time is our enemy. Therefore, we can ill afford to delay bringing the added security benefits of proven biometric applications while we investigate potential future enhancements..

At the top of any national priority list must be the desire to improve security and procedures at U.S. airports, seaports, land border crossings and high-profile government buildings. In each of these areas, hand geometry biometrics is already in use in some of the world’s most sensitive security environments:

RSI HandReaders are used not only at San Francisco International Airport and several other leading U.S. airports, but also at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Passengers returning to Israel insert a simple credit card into a biometric kiosk as a means of presenting their identity. This identity is verified through the placement of their hand in the kiosk. Successful processing can be achieved in 15 seconds, much faster than the hour it can take to clear the regular immigration lines. Similar biometric immigration kiosks have been in place for the past 7 years at 9 North American airports including Dulles, JFK, Newark and Dallas airports as part of the INS sponsored INSPASS program. With over 50,000 frequent travelers enrolled in the program, there are 23,000 pre-screened passengers per month using this immigration process.

A voluntary frequent traveler program is very powerful because it allows officials to focus resources on higher risk individuals and allows pre-screened passenger travelers to proceed quickly through airport security. I will demonstrate how a proximity smart card loaded with a biometric template can be used to validate a passenger’s identity in such a program. Also, our vision is that biometric screening processes can be applied to the check in and security check points of an airport, to make sure that the person who checked in is the same one who entered the plane.

In addition to the airport, the Israeli border crossing application will be extended in 2002 to the provide security at one of the most high-profile land border crossings in the world – the Israeli-Palestinian border crossed by more than 50,000 individuals daily. Again, biometric solutions will help manage visa and immigration procedures by reducing the risk of identity fraud.

Our technology solutions are used at the port facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the world’s largest seaport facility and the primary sea transport gateway to the European continent to verify the identity of truck drivers accessing petrochemical storage areas.

U.S. Federal agencies use RSI’s HandReaders at sensitive government installations including the Pentagon, U.S. military bases, the State Department, the NSA, DARPA, the US Postal Service the Federal Reserve Bank and American embassies abroad.

HandReaders protect access to hundreds of critical computer server facilities including the computers which run the Nasdaq stock exchange.

During the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, HandReaders reliably secured access to the Olympic village so that only athletes and authorized personnel entered the secured area.

As our nation moves forward following the tragic events of September 11, the overriding security issue will be to better manage identity verification and access control in a variety of high-volume environments. While machines can never fully replace highly trained and vigilant officials, a biometric hand reader will not get tired at the end of the shift, it will never take a day off, it won’t “loan” its access code to cousins, friends or co-workers, and it won’t accept a forged identity card. When integrated with other security technologies and procedures, hand geometry readers can significantly cut down the risk of unauthorized individuals gaining access to places and assets where they can cause damage.

I’d like to leave this Subcommittee with a piece of good news. The good news is that we can copy from a large library of proven identity verification solutions, then cost effectively paste these into the highest risk applications of our choice. We urge this Subcommittee, the Congress and Federal agencies to support the adoption of processes and technologies which will validate the identity of those accessing our borders, airports, ports and other critical national assets.

Thank you.