Homeland Security - Protecting our Borders and Ports through
Biometric, RFID, Sensor and Surveillance Technology
Homeland Security Focused on Addressing Illegal Immigration and
Terrorism through Stronger Borders and Ports
By Ann-Marie Fleming, www.BorderandPortSecurity.com
Securing our ports and borders has become a major focus of
Homeland Security, in particular since the events of 9/11.
President Bush has made addressing problems with illegal
immigration, terrorist activities, and illegal smuggling of
weapons and drugs a high level priority of border and port
security. In October, the President signed the Department of
Homeland Security Appropriations Act for 2006, which allocates
$30.8 billion in discretionary funding for the 2006 fiscal year.
The bill apportions $7.5 billion towards illegal immigration and
gives $139 million towards the improvement of border technology
and intelligence capabilities to include cameras and sensors
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated before the
US. Senate Judiciary Committee, "President Bush has placed
ever-increasing importance on border security and has devoted
significant resources to this challenge. The President believes
- and I agree - that illegal immigration threatens our
communities and our national security. The ability of
undocumented individuals to enter our country represents an
obvious homeland security threat. Flagrant violation of our
borders undercuts the rule of law, undermines our security, and
imposes particular economic strains on our border communities.
When we do not control our borders, we also risk entry into the
U.S. of terrorists or others wishing to do us harm."
RFID Biometric Convergence:
A key initiative towards the achievement of secure borders and
ports to ensure the facilitation of lawful travel and trade, an
accurate immigration system and the overall protection of
visitors and citizens is the U.S. Visit program. Under this
program, foreign visitors are required to have their index
fingers scanned as well as a digital photograph taken for travel
document identification matching purposes. According to the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US-VISIT entry procedures
are currently in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the
secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of
entry. Exit procedures are operating at 12 airports and two
seaports with procedures to be deployed to the remaining land
ports of entry by December 31, 2005.
Under the Visa Waiver Program, 27 nation's such as Australia,
Austria, Norway, Belgium, Japan, the United Kingdom, France,
Germany and many more countries, had to meet a congressional
mandate that required, as a first stage in the multi-stage
border and port security strategy, for passports to have the
digital photographs in passports by October 26, 2005. The next
step according to DHS is a policy requiring these countries to
produce 'e-passports', which entails an RFID chip that can store
biographic information, a digital photograph and other biometric
details to be integrated into passports by October 26, 2006.
This technology, under the U.S. Visit Program, allows for faster
and more secure identification of illegal activity, and provides
for more efficient border and port travel for visitors to the
United States, while increasing the ability to share information
among federal, state, local and foreign agencies.
Homeland security technology expert Brian Ruttenbur, Equity
Research Analyst, Morgan Keegan & Co. explains, "What really
pushes countries and government officials to move are mandates
with deadlines and funding attached to those. The US Visit has
really pushed that along in enforcing the requirements set forth
in the program in terms of biometric authentication, and
governments have found the funding for those types of issues."
Sense Holdings, a provider of biometric and micro-sensor
identification systems that target the homeland security market,
sees the convergence of RFID and biometric technology as an
effective security solution. The Company's CEO, Dore Perler
explains, "The use of RFID and biometric technologies is almost
a perfect fit in the development of an easy to use intuitive
security system. As a layered approach, the RFID requires little
or no action from the end user, leaving only the biometric
component. Essentially this doubles the security of the system
without requiring any additional effort from the end user.
Incorporating multiple RFID triggers facilities notification to
the end user that they are not authorized prior to using the
biometric or approaching the system terminal, thus minimizing
the wear and tear on the biometric while correspondingly
allowing the process to proceed faster for those authorized."
Domestic and International Opportunity:
"The biometric side of the business is going to grow extremely
fast all because of the enhanced border and visa security act
that was passed in 2002 by Congress, which is forcing every
country in the entire world to go with biometric sensors and
biometric travel documents. I see the EU Visitor Information
System and UK e-borders spurring into multiple programs and
there is going to be biometrics on every travel documents in
five to ten years down the road and that's going to be National
ID Cards, Visas, and Passports all with biometrics. The U.S.
will be one of the last nations of the first world countries, to
adopt a biometrics national id card," describes Ruttenbur.
Two key the goals for the integration of biometric and RFID
technology in terms of border and port security entails both
accuracy as well as efficiency to help facilitate faster border
crossing with an increased level of security. "The competitive
advantage of implementing a technology based solution, such as
RFID, biometrics, or a combination, comes not from the
technology itself, but from the improvements to business
processes that would be impossible without the devices. We are
very excited about the future of RFID integration with
biometrics and as a stand alone technology. Issues that have
plagued industry are now able to be resolved with the
incorporation of wireless LANs, RFID, and biometrics. Sense is
positioning itself and developing new product lines to address
these long time burdens," states Perler.
The tragic events that took place in London with the bombings
within a major transit system have placed a growing sense of
urgency on the need for effective surveillance technology. As
Ruttenbur discusses, "I think that the next step to see across
the borders will be camera systems getting rolled out. We have
seen a number of announcements from the New York Transit
Authority, the New Jersey Transit authority that they are
starting to implement camera systems that monitor the platforms,
trains, buses etc."
According to Corby Lawrence, Director of Business Development
for SYColeman, a division of L-3 Communications, "The roll-out
of such camera systems must be planned, built, and implemented
with a major focus on real-world operational effectiveness.
Simply installing huge volumes of cameras and sensors and
displaying the information on dozens of CCTVs exceeds the human
capacity to detect threat activities within an area of concern."
L-3 Communications has addressed this global problem with its
PRAETORIAN surveillance software. Created by Sarnoff
Laboratories and recently purchased and commercialized by L-3,
PRAETORIAN is the industry's only surveillance system capable of
integrating multiple cameras and sensors into a single, 3D
"game-like" display, permitting fly-through abilities. "With
PRAETORIAN, operators can finally have full situational
awareness, even in complex security environments such as borders
and ports," stated Lawrence.
As the war on terrorism across the globe expands, and public and
private "homeland security" and related funding increases, the
demand for surveillance is anticipated to continue its growth.
Law Enforcement Associates (LEA) is working to take advantage of
the intensified need for surveillance technology through the
Company's Under Vehicle Inspection System. As described by the
Company, the Under Vehicle Inspection System views the underside
of vehicles entering and exiting secure areas/facilities for
explosive devices and contraband. It is deployed on military
bases, oil refineries, ports, United Nations and NATO Locations,
embassies, nuclear facilities, and government installations.
Paul Feldman, LEA's CEO, reveals, "Providing the needed security
at border entry points and ports is a very tasking job. Our
borders are vast and are difficult to fully monitor. The amount
of freight that comes into our seaports is staggering. LEA has
proven that their security products can play be an important
part of the "overall security" plan to help in border and port
The focus on sensor technology with applications in border and
port security is increasing. Ruttenbur anticipates growth in
sensor programs for cargo screening, which are just starting to
emerge, as well as rollouts in the next several months for
additional sensor programs that entail body scanners first in
airports, then in other locations.
Sense Holdings is currently developing explosives sensor
technology based on Micro Electro-Mechanical Sensors (MEMS) with
plans on integrating this technology with biometric
identification. "As the needs for Homeland Security escalate and
become more complicated, there is a growing demand for
innovative detection technology to ensure and enable security on
a variety of levels. Along with developing technology that can
accurately identify explosives and harmful material, the use of
this technology must also be secured. The integration of
biometric identification with effective explosives detection
ensures that the activities are monitored, tracked and that the
technology is only being used by authorized personnel, while at
the same time helping to facilitate secure communication of
sensor activity," describes Perler.
Law Enforcement Associates has entered the detection market with
their explosives detection kit, the EDK123, which according to
the Company provides a fast, reliable field test for detection
of trace nitrates that are found in 85% of all explosives,
including TNT, Dynamite, Sentex, RDX and ammonium nitrates. It
is currently being used by our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As the United States works towards an actionable security plan
to protect our borders and ports, it is becoming clear that
homeland security is more accurately defined as Global Security.
With the continuation of worldwide terrorist activity, it is
clear that security can no longer be understood and evaluated in
a domestic context alone. With a global perspective on security
and the potential threats that we face, innovative and effective
technology can be more clearly identified to address the needs
for securing travel and trade. This quest points towards an
industry that will continue to grow; one that will be here for
the long run as it continues to evolve to meet the diverse
challenges that global security demands.
Ann-Marie Fleming Ann-Marie Fleming completed her MBA in the
United States, where she attended Webster University. She also
holds an Honors B.A from the University of Toronto. She has over
fifteen years of experience within the financial industry to
include retail banking and brokerage, investment banking, and
mortgage brokerage within the United States and Canada, with a
firm background in corporate research.