Interview with Terry Wheeler, President and COO of Identica Holdings Corporation
Oct-15-08 October 2008 FB Identica has just announced that it has secured, in partnership with Unisys, a biometric credentialing and access control contract with the Port of Halifax ( HPA) . Can you elaborate on this? TW About 20 months ago we teamed with Unisys Canada to deploy a biometric credentialing and access control database system (CACDS) utilizing Identica's hand VPR technology. With Identica's Vascular Pattern Scanners (VP-II) and HID iCLASS smart cards, the Port of Halifax will significantly strengthen its security and manage workforce access control. The Port of Halifax covers over 29-kilometers of coastline and is the world's second largest icefree port. More importantly, The Port of Halifax is a key transportation hub for the region, serving as Canada 's East coast connection to worldwide trade. With security issues being a top priority, the Port of Halifax is deploying Identica's VPR technology to provide the highest degree in system security. Compared to other biometric technologies considered (fingerprint, iris, hand geometry), our vascular solutions are highly accurate, non-intrusive to the workers and able to be used by port personnel that work with their hands in a rough outdoor environment. FB Why is Identica's technology superior in that type of environment? TW The main difference and advantage with our VPR technology is we extract the user's vascular pattern from below the surface of the skin. There are a number of advantages for the Port of Halifax : In a very tough environment, system usability is extremely important. Port workers typically work with their hands which can be damp/dry and dirty, resulting in fingerprints that are not able to be verified in this environment. Because our scanners read about 4 millimeters below the skin on the back of the hand, any contamination on the user's hands will not affect the reading of their vascular pattern verifying users with both accuracy and speed. Over the past year we had meetings with the port workers and union representatives over their concerns of biometric implementation with intrusive and a privacy concern. This was really
important for the port workers and their union. Again, because we extract the vascular pattern from below the surface of the skin, a user must voluntarily provide their vascular pattern by placing their hand in our scanner; it can not be left behind by the user involuntarily and therefore there are no police databases of vascular patterns. This eliminates the privacy and the criminal connotation typically associated with fingerprint biometric solutions. For this type of application, when compared to fingerprint, iris, facial and hand geometry, vascular pattern is the only biometric modality that is not visible from outside of the body; this is why we do not have an issue with spoofing of vascular patterns. FB Weather is a factor on the east cost of Canada , how do you deal with these issues? TW We have introduced a new product called the WeatherShield. It is an automated heated weatherproof outdoor enclosure that supports operation of our vascular scanners in all weather conditions to a low of -50 C . When a worker approaches the enclosure, they present their valid HID iCLASS smart card to our WeatherShield enclosure and the enclosure door automatically opens for the user; before the enclosure door is open it has already read their vascular template from their iCLASS smartcard, the user simply places the back of their hand in our vascular scanner and if they are authorized to enter the gate, turnstile, or door, the Lenel access control system grants them access. An electronic eye motion sensor in the enclosure knows when the user has moved away from the enclosure activating the door to automatically close. FB In this deployment is the template stored on a card? TW Yes, the Port of Halifax is using HID's iCLASS smartcards. Our HID iCLASS enabled Universal Controller (UC-2) is being used here with our VP-II vascular scanner. We initially enroll the user's template and store it on the smart card; when the user presents the card, the UC-2 automatically sends the stored template to our reader where the user is verified by comparison of the stored template with their live vascular pattern from the back of their hand. By using HID iCLASS smart cards we do not require a backend computer server(s) and network infrastructure to manage the user's templates. In fact, at the Port of Halifax we only store the template on their card; it is not stored on the network at all. This was very important to the Port of Halifax union and workers and another way we protect the port worker's privacy. FB The Port of Halifax is the second largest in the world. How many people will be using the system?
TW They estimate that 4000 Port of Halifax workers will require access into the high security doors and gates that we are protecting with our scanners. In addition to the port workers there are also significant sized port tenants working onsite that will be able to integrate their systems and utilize the same iCLASS smart card and our vascular scanners and WeatherShields. FB When will this deployment begin? TW The product is now onsite and the deployment will begin in October 2007. FB What are the responsibilities of Unisys and Identica in this partnership? TW We have a teaming agreement with Unisys Canada . Unisys was recently awarded complete deployment of the biometric credentialing and access control database system (CACDS), to the Port of Halifax which includes our vascular scanners. They are responsible for integrating it with the access control system, the credentialing system and the backend database. Unisys has been a great partner to work with and this is now leading to a number of other projects we are working on in conjunction with Unisys. FB How well does this new deployment fit in with the Port's existing infrastructure? TW The infrastructure will be all new; they are replacing virtually everything that is there. That includes a new Lenel access control system, cameras as well as new gates, fences, roads and other infrastructure to provide the Port of Halifax the high end security it requires. Identica's VPR solutions were developed to integrate out of the box with legacy security solutions as well as existing and future TCP/IP solutions. In Halifax we are connecting our solutions to their Lenel access control system which is a standard configuration for our vascular scanners. FB Was this a government initiative or was this the Port's undertaking? TW It was a combination of both, but it would not have happened without the funding from the Federal Government of Canada.
Obviously, security and access control is a very important initiative and other Canadian Ports are implementing solutions as well; for example, Identica's VPR technology has also been specified for a similar deployment at the Port of Vancouver. FB What can we expect to see from Identica this year? TW In the last year there has been a dramatic change in the acceptance of vascular pattern recognition as a biometric modality, both from the point of view of end users, such as the Port of Halifax , but also within the biometric industry as a whole. The Intern ational Organization for Standardization (ISO) has approved for publication the Biometric Data Interchange formats for Vascular Image Data as part of the international standard (ISO/IEC FDIS 19794-9). Over the past year Identica has seen a major change in that vascular pattern recognition is not only accepted as a biometric modality, but is the best option for a number of applications; this will result in continued growth in vascular pattern recognition's market share and many significant deployments such as The Port of Halifax. Identica has also recently expanded its operations to include Eastern and Western Europe. We are now working on a number of initiatives with our integration partners there; expect to see announcements soon of new deployments of Identica's Hand Vascular Pattern Recognition solutions in Europe.
We have a wide variety of Vascular Pattern Scanners, at findBIOMETRICS.com.