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Homeland Security - Protecting Our Borders And Ports Through Biometric, RFID, Sensor And Surveillanc

   By: Anne-Marie Fleming

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, , November 2005

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 among others.

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.

Surveillance Systems:

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 security."

Sensor Technology:

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.

Global Security:

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.

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