MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- The Air Station tested out a new security system for recent air show that combines the age-old technique of fingerprinting with the high-speed technology of today.
The portable system was installed in less than an hour to prevent unauthorized people from gaining access into classified briefing areas. With the new device installed, there was no need for military personnel to monitor each entrance.
"This system not only reduces the need for manpower, but also negates any possibility of human error," said Romeo Nelson, vice president of operations for Special Security Incorporated. "It essentially gives a tamper-proof way to positively verify an individual by using a person's unique fingerprint for identification."
The system encrypts an individual's information and fingerprint on a small picture identification card. The cards are capable of holding enough data to store the entire Gettysburg Address in addition to the user's fingerprint, according to Nelson.
The user inserts the card into a computer outside the monitored area and places their finger on a small scanner, which matches the image of the user's fingerprint to the data stored on the card.
"This technology has been around less than six months," Nelson said. "We have just recently been able to scan a fingerprint and print it on a card."
Unlike similar systems, this one is more affordable and not network dependent, according to Nelson.
The approximate $40,000 system used for the air show stores all the information on a separate database that is protected by the same security measures it provides.
"Although networks are good for large operations, there are inherent problems with them," Nelson said. "If the network goes down, the security functions will not be supported, but because this system is independent, it is capable of standing alone."
In addition to the cost conscience system, the identification cards are all also inexpensive, according to Nelson. The card costs just 8 cents when compared to the more than $8 military identification card.
The system has more applications than those being used for the air show. It can be used anywhere it is important to monitor individuals' access into areas that require certain levels of authorization or clearance, according to Nelson.
"The system keeps track of who and when someone enters a protected area," Nelson said. "If there is a problem, officials can look at the record to narrow down an investigation."
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, security has heightened all around the world. With this security system's strong debut at the Air Show, military commanders may be looking for better and similar ways to protect their bases.