Registered Traveler takes off from Florida

The nation's first privately sponsored Registered Traveler program sanctioned by the Homeland Security Department began operating this week at Orlando International Airport in Florida.

Since June 21, when the program began accepting enrollments, about 4,000 people have paid an annual fee of $79.95 each to sign up and submit to background checks.

Once cleared, they receive special biometric smart cards to benefit from speedier clearance procedures through the airport. The smart cards contain chips with biometric information that allows the registered travelers to proceed through checkpoints more quickly.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and New York-based Verified Identity Pass Inc. are operating the program in partnership with the Homeland Security Department and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

The program requires registered travelers to submit 10 fingerprints ? a standard that was selected because it is compatible with the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a large criminal database of 45 million prints, said Jim Carlson, manager of business development for biometrics with Lockheed Martin.

Background checks on enrollees are performed by DHS' Transportation Security Administration and checked against FBI and other databases.

"A lot of people, as demonstrated by our enrollment, would gladly give up their information to regain some of the simplicity of using air travel," Carlson said.

"The program will enable us to move more passengers through the airport in a timely manner while maintaining the highest standards of safety and security," C.W. Jennings, executive director of the aviation authority, said in a news release.

The number of enrollees to date is twice as many as projected estimates, said Steven Brill, chief executive of Verified Identity Pass. "It's great that all of these members?whose numbers are more than double where we thought we'd be so soon after we began enrollment?can now use their memberships here in Orlando. We hope this is the beginning of what will be a nationwide program."

About 31 million passengers use Orlando's airport each year.

The department also has been sponsoring its own limited Registered Traveler programs at airports in Minneapolis, Washington, Houston, Boston and Los Angeles airports for the past year.

Meanwhile, another group of airports working in collaboration with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have agreed to join together to establish common rules and standards to create a permanent, interoperable registered traveler program.

"Just as credit cards are accepted once issued at most businesses around the country, if you signed up as a Registered Traveler in Washington, D.C., you ought to be recognized as a Registered Traveler in Minneapolis or any other airport around the country," Carter Morris, the association's senior vice president, said in a news release.

Airports involved in the founding of the consortium with the AAAE include Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Phoenix Sky Harbor, San Francisco International, Denver International, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Dulles International and Port of Columbus International Airport, the association said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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