EDS, Oracle launch airport security wares

Four major IT vendors are co-developing a suite of products to automate and improve the screening of passengers and employees at U.S. airports, with the aim of making the process faster and more secure.

Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) and PwC Consulting on Tuesday announced the first two systems they have co-developed as a response to increased demand for tighter and better airport security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The systems are called Known Traveler, designed for the identification of passengers, and Secure Employee, which is for screening airport employees and contractors. Both systems are based on a biometric airport security system EDS built for Israel’s Ben Gurion airport which has been in use there since 1998 to process about 1.5 million passengers to date.

Known Traveler can be used voluntarily by passengers willing to register to allow U.S. government security agencies to run background checks on them. Registered passengers receive a smart card with their identity information, including their fingerprint and iris scan biometric data. The passengers would use the card at airport security checkpoints, which would speed up their screening. The Secure Employee system works in a similar fashion and is designed to manage the access of airport employees and contractors to certain restricted areas.

The suite being co-developed by Oracle, Sun, EDS and PwC is called the National Integrated Security Suite. The partners are likely to develop other products for it, and it’s possible that other IT vendors will join the effort, an EDS spokeswoman said Tuesday. The buyer for these systems would be the U.S. government, which is in the process of taking over security at the country’s airports, and it’s likely that the cost would be shared by the government, airports and airlines, although details aren’t clear yet, she said. The collaboration that led to the creation of these two systems involved integrating technology and products from the four partners, the EDS spokeswoman said.

The announcement was made at the Comdex Chicago trade show.

EDS is at http://www.eds.com/

Sun is at http://www.sun.com/

Oracle is at http://www.oracle.com/

PwC, a unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers, is at http://www.pwcconsulting.com/