Biometrics Card To Be Tested At Bridgeport DOD Facility

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

by Matt Harvey, Assistant Managing Editor

BRIDGEPORT (Tuesday, November 21, 2001)

Testing of a new military security card here is another step in West Virginia's bid to corner part of the "intellectual market" relating to the science of biometrics, a WVU official said.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., on Tuesday announced the testing of the card at the Department of Defense's Biometrics Fusion Center in Bridgeport. For identification, the card uses biometrics, or digitized reproductions of identifiable human characteristics such as fingerprints, vein patterns or irises, said Mike Yura, director of WVU's Forensics Identification Program.

Yura foresees a time when biometrics will be used not only for military applications, but in everyday life for things like an identification card for airlines, debit cards and other uses.

And that, he said, would tie together the efforts of various North Central West Virginia agencies and groups, from the Department of Defense office to the FBI's fingerprint facility and WVU's forensics program.

The testing "is the first step toward a broad acceptance to the use of biometrics," Yura said.

The military access card "prevents all but authorized military personnel and civilian employees access to secure areas and computer networks," Byrd said in a news release.

Testing will begin early in 2002, Byrd said.

"While the current card being used by the Department of Defense allows access to sensitive areas through a personal identification number, the new access card will lead to greater security by matching an individual's fingerprint or other unique characteristic before access is granted to a secure area or network," Byrd said in the news release.

Phillip Loranger is director of the Department of Defense's Biometrics Management Office, which oversees the Bridgeport office.

Loranger said the plan is to use biometrics to safeguard military "resources here and on the battlefield."

Yura said the testing will involve applying the technology to many different venues. Much of the program depends on machines that have to be set up correctly, Yura added.

Byrd's news release made no predictions on how many jobs the initiative will create.

But, "from my experience with Sen. Byrd, it always means jobs," Yura said. "The more the application of that technology, the more jobs. ... Because we have the intellectual property, and with some of the facilities we have ... we're well on our way toward trying to corner part of this intellectual market."