Wireless exits possible for U.S. Visit

The Homeland Security Department is considering wireless technology for the exit phase of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, a senior DHS official said today.

"We are looking at a wireless device to run the watch list" at exit points, said Shonnie Lyons, Increment One manager for U.S. Visit. He spoke at a lunch meeting sponsored by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

DHS already is operating two exit kiosk pilots, one at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the other at a cruise line port in Miami.

"One of the issues, we know, is that people won't stop by" to use the kiosk, Lyons said. For example, some travelers leaving the country wouldn't understand signs directing them to the exit kiosk.

"We are looking to a mobile device to be used at the [airport] gate or security" checkpoint, Lyons said. "Once we select the preferred option, we will deploy it in the December [2004] to January time frame over a period of four to six months."

Unisys Corp. now operates the exit kiosk pilots under its contract with the Transportation Security Administration, but responsibility might shift to the integrator chosen this summer for U.S. Visit, officials said.

Other officials at the AFFIRM meeting said U.S. Visit is identifying about three travelers on watch lists each day at airports and sea ports nationwide. In contrast, during a pilot at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last year, the system tagged about 10 travelers daily. James Jeffers, project manager for the U.S. Visit Coordination Desk, said officials believe the bad guys have gotten the word that U.S. Visit will catch them.

"We are trying to convince our oversight bodies that the reduction in hits is not a systems problem," U.S. Visit CIO Scott Hastings said.

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