American airports: Morpho streamlines ID checks

The US Transportation Security Administration has chosen Morpho (Safran) to develop a solution to optimize ID and boarding pass checks. This mission for the ID specialist is based on trust.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) chose MorphoTrust USA to develop new technology to improve traveler convenience and security in September 2011. "When travelers arrive at the airport to take a flight, they have to provide their ID and boarding pass together at the security checkpoint," explains MorphoTrust USA Project Manager Chad Crouch. He adds, "Today, the officers in charge of running these checks – Travel Document Checkers – manually check that passenger names on documents and boarding passes match and that the documents are authentic." That is the step that TSA wants to streamline with its CAT/BPSS* program.

More reliable checks
There are no fewer than 1,300 different government-issued ID documents in the US alone which incorporate a variety of security features to prevent forgery (ultraviolet ink, holograms, watermarks, etc.). Chad Crouch explains, "No one person can know all the features on all the documents. The Travel Document Checkers have fairly rudimentary tools to check them so there is a risk of human error." This TSA program is geared towards developing an IT system that will render pre-boarding authentication and verification operations swifter and smarter.

Three months to develop the pilot project
The system that MorphoTrust USA developed uses a reader that can scan an ID document and provide accurate authentication by liaising with a database containing the existing documents and their authentication features. The reader also picks up the public-record information on the document – contained in the bar code, magnetic strip or electronic chip – and then compares it to the information on the boarding pass, in seconds! Chad Crouch adds, "Once the transaction is complete, the personal information captured from both documents is instantly purged from the system," Chad Crouch explains. He adds, "TSA is very serious about privacy protection."

MorphoTrust USA only took three months to build its system for the pilot. The team used Morpho's B5000 reader, which is already used extensively to authenticate passports. By last April, ten prototype systems were delivered and six of them were installed in three US airports for operational testing and evaluation. Chad Crouch adds: "We obviously hope this testing stage results in an agreement to start industrial production and large-scale deployment. In any case, we have developed a solid relationship with our customer over the past few years and look forward to expanding it further as the prime contractor responsible for the Universal Enrollment Service (UES) program."

* Credential Authentication Technology/Boarding Pass Scanning System