Standards operating procedure

Steve LeSueur

By many accounts, the Registered Traveler program, which uses biometric identifiers to speed passengers through airports, has been a success. Federal officials are evaluating the pilot project, which is being tested at five airports, to decide whether to expand it to other airports.

But moving beyond the pilot stage will require that government and industry teams solve one major problem: Participants can use biometric kiosks only at the airports at which they registered.

The Transportation Security Administration must create standards that make the different biometric systems interoperable. Industry officials told Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin that it's the next logical step in the Registered Traveler program, and they are confident it won't be difficult to do.

Registered Traveler is one of several big-ticket biometrics programs, including the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, which must adopt standards for interoperability. As Gerin found, these program already are taking steps in that direction.

John Woodward, director of the Pentagon's Biometrics Management Office, told Gerin that biometric technologies are still in the early adoption phase. "In some ways, we are like the state of railroads around the time of the Civil War in the 19th century," he said. "Every railroad company built its railroad gauge to its own proprietary standard, and that's why the tracks didn't meet. So we're trying to make the tracks meet."

The story is on our front page.

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