Interview with James Conniff, Direct of Access Control Solutions, Sagem Morpho Inc.
Sep-10-07 FB Since the last time we spoke with Sagem Morpho Inc. (SMI) you have won numerous biometric contracts. To what do you attribute this growth? JC SMI’s growth in North America can, I believe, be attributed to a combination of factors. I think the overall market is beginning to understand our depth of expertise and our technology as well as the resources available to us. We have a large team of 600 scientists and technical team members dedicated strictly to biometrics. Our R&D department provides not only for the needs of today’s markets but looks ahead for future needs. In addition, we have participated in various independent studies and tests: such as the MINEX04, carried out by NIST, the International Labour Organization’s Seafarer Identity Documents Convention, and International Biometric Group evaluations. The results of these tests speak volumes about our capabilities. Also, we participate as subject matter experts on several committees where standards are being developed for various biometric applications and initiatives. Initiatives with the RTCA, which is a standards committee for Airport Security; Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) for the transportation workers initiative; the M1 Standards committee whose work includes biometric standards for data interchange formats, common file formats, application program interfaces, profiles, and performance testing and reporting and various others, providing further insight into our capabilities. FB What new trends are you seeing in the Biometric Industry, and how do these trends affect your business? JC There are several new trends which will no doubt enhance the way many people perform their day-to-day activities on a personal and professional level. Biometrics not only help protect our homeland, but are a convenience to many. For example, the ability to pay for various goods and services using a biometric is growing very rapidly. We expect to see a substantial increase in biometrically verified transactions over the next couple of years. Identity theft is a real problem not only for the consumer but also for businesses. We see biometrically verified transactions as ready to proceed into a business-type application. FB You are involved in several vertical markets – from access control, financial, law enforcement, to civil applications. Where are you seeing the greatest growth?
JC We’ve experienced considerable growth in access control business for both physical and logical access. There are a number of different initiatives in the last several years that are new to the market. These new initiatives have produced a need for novel, creative solutions like our MA120W PIV terminal. We continue to see very strong growth in our state and local markets and, of course, on the federal side with initiatives like FIPS 201, biometric passports and securing U.S. borders. Again, one of the other growth areas is on the biometric payment side of the business which is expanding a great deal. FB Are you experiencing or do you think that consumer privacy concerns will become a challenge in the payment area? JC When it comes down to biometrics and privacy, I truly believe it is a matter of educating the population as to what biometrics are used for, and how they are being implemented. Regarding privacy concerns SMI utilizes various methods to encrypt the data. We extract the data points from the raw image and create a template from this data. We do not keep the raw image when privacy is an issue. In order to secure this template, cryptographic tools and encryption methods are used such as secure messaging making it very difficult to access the necessary data to reverse engineer the process. The ability to reduplicate the original image and prove the identity via a fingerprint expert is not possible. However, we still sense some privacy concerns even from those with full knowledge of biometrics. In response to these concerns, there is an alternative; “match-on-card” keeps all information on the card itself. With match-on-card, all the information (data) remains on the card. There is no database with people’s individual data or their biometrics. Your card with your personal data goes with you, keeping it in your control. Our goal remains the same, to educate the population on the benefits of using biometrics and that the use of biometrics is truly secure… FB Speaking of “match-on-card” - SMI’s MorphoAccess120 W PIV (MA120 W PIV) was recently recognized as the winner of the 2007 Global Product Excellence prize in Biometrics as well as Security Solution for Federal Customer Trust Award by Info Security Products Guide. Can you please elaborate on this for us? JC Certainly! We really attribute the success of this solution to our R&D and engineering teams. This biometric terminal is truly “smart”. Our MA120 W PIV was developed to respond to the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201 initiative, which is called PIV (Personal Identity Verification of Federal Employees and Contractors). We saw early on a need to have a solution that not only meets the PIV requirements but also meets the needs of the end-user, basically the government agencies. The MA120 W has two integrated processors inside the terminal which can process the data off the PIV card and help make the decision at the entry
points. This is a huge benefit to the end user as we can now integrate with an existing legacy PACS system without replacing it. This allows a huge cost savings across the board. On the reverse side, a transparent reader simply pushes information to a back-end legacy system. Transparent readers cannot perform this same functionality; essentially “We are not transparent.” FB In terms of new product development what can we expect to see from SMI in the future? JC We have several new products coming out which will undoubtedly impact the market, one of which I can comment on. We are very close to completing a new hand-held device that has the capability to hold 100,000 two-finger templates on the device. This device, called MorphoCheck 250, was developed to handle various applications. These applications include the FIPS 201 Personal Identity Verification (PIV), the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), also the First Responder Authentication Credential (FRAC), Common Access Card (CAC), in addition to the E-passport and the scanning of the U.S. driver license. We expect this versatile hand-held mobile solution to have a very large impact in these various arenas. Also, we have developed a PIV bridge which communicates through our MA120 W PIV to legacy physical access control systems (PACS) in the field. This bridge translates the multiplekilobyte CHUID or card holder unique identifier, that has been processed and verified by the MA120 W smart terminal, and transforms it into a corresponding Wiegand accessible signal that the legacy PACS systems can understand. FB So basically the advantage there is you get to work with the legacy PACS system. JC Correct, the FIPS 201 initiative developed a standard for information being gathered from the CHUID, however the card holder unique identifier contains an exorbitant amount of information on the actual card itself. Legacy access control systems cannot read this card because the amount of data coming through is too much. Our bridge basically translates the entire CHUID and communicates it in a way that the older systems can understand. FB Thank you very much for filling us in on some of the new products. In summary, is there anything else you would like to add in at this time? JC I think that SMI’s performance over the past year has delivered very good results. We attribute this to our versatile supply of superior technology, being solutions-oriented, as well as staying focused on current and future market needs. I truly believe we have only just scratched the surface of our broad range of capabilities.
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