Backers of biometrics, the science that identifies people by turning their physical characteristics into a unique set of numbers, say the technology’s potential for business, government and health agencies has been enhanced in an uneasy post 9/11 era.
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that the government will speed up deployment of biometric security at the nation’s borders and airports. The first systems, to track visitors’ identities, will be in place by the end of the year. So far, the government has issued $14 million in development contracts.
Law enforcement personnel are looking into crime-fighting applications of this and other identification technologies.
Fingerprint scanners are being designed to tighten access to business networks, hospital records, prisons and bank automated teller machines. Voice recognition systems are being developed to eliminate the need for giving out credit card numbers over the phone.