TSA System May Make Boarding Passes Obsolete

By Stew Magnuson

The Transportation Security Administration awarded MorphoTrust USA a contract to provide passport and driver’s license scanners in airports, a step which will one day lead to the elimination of boarding passes.

The Credential Authentication Technology (E-CAT) program will allow TSA agents who now visually verify the authenticity of identity cards and passports to place them on a scanner that will do that job for them.

The machine will verify the authenticity of the document by matching it to a database of more than 2,800 domestic and international credentials, explained Jim Albers, the company’s senior vice president of government operations. It will also confirm that the holder of the document is booked on a flight at the terminal, therefore eliminating the need for a boarding pass.

The goal is to reduce the approximately 24 seconds the agent spends looking at the document, boarding pass and the passenger’s face down to 12 seconds, Albers said.

“The idea is to get rid of that process and eventually be able to move through the line without the boarding pass,” he said.

The agent will still have to visually match the photo on the document to the passenger’s face, he noted.

The scanner not only ensures that the ID card or passport is authentic, it can identify those that have been altered or tampered with, he added.

Once the E-CAT scanner is connected to TSA’s network, this information will simultaneously be verified against the passenger boarding information from Secure Flight, TSA’s watchlist matching system.

Forty-two of 50 states use MorphoTrust products to produce 80 percent of the U.S. driver licenses, he noted. The company is also the prime contractor for TSA’s Universal Enrollment Services and TSA Pre√™.

“We are very familiar with the way credentials are created and the security features that are built into them,” he said. The company began work on the technology almost two decades ago, long before there was a TSA, he noted.

The $85 million, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract’s ceiling is seven years and calls for up to 2,400 units.

MorphoTrust USA will deliver the first low-rate initial production units this fall. Passengers may experience the new process in field tests in late 2014, with a rollout at airports beginning in early 2015, he said.

Topics: Homeland Security, RailMass Transit

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