Unisys to deploy biometrics for Halifax

Unisys Corp. will use vascular biometric technology to identify port workers under a new contract with the Port of Halifax.

The company's subsidiary Unisys Canada Inc. will develop and manage a biometric credentialing and access control database system for about 4,000 of port workers. Transport Canada and the port will fund the $500,000 pilot project, which is scheduled for completion in November.

The Halifax Port Authority commissioned the credentialing and access control database system in compliance with Transport Canada's Marine Transportation Security Act and corresponding regulations.

The Port of Halifax is expected to handle 1,800 vessels and generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Unisys will integrate vascular scanning technology to identify port workers as part of the system. An infrared scan of the back of the cardholder's hand will be embedded in a smart card, which also will include the holder's photograph. This vascular image, which is recognized by a noninvasive infrared sensor, will be used to identify the cardholder when he or she presents the card and places the back of his/her hand in the scanner.

Verification is instantaneous and is achieved when the blood flow pattern of the holder's hand matches the pattern of the scan stored on the card.

Unisys will design and develop the secure database containing the names of participating port workers. The port's access control system will manage multi-level access control to permit entry to various secure facilities only to those individuals with proper clearances and approved access.

The system also controls exits. Workers must use the card and verify their identity when they leave an area into which the card granted them access. In an emergency situation, authorized individuals can override this requirement so as not to impede evacuation processes.

The system, based on open architecture, and its accompanying smart card have the ability to incorporate and layer additional biometrics and integrate with other transportation security systems not currently supporting vascular imaging.

Unisys of Blue Bell, Pa., ranks No. 27 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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