Biometric Testing To Be Done With Existing Staff

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

by Jim Fisher, Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT (Wednesday, November 28, 2001)

Testing of a new military biometric security card is not expected to add any new jobs to the area, but instead will be conducted with existing staff at the Department of Defense's Biometric Fusion Center.

The testing is another step in the state's bid to corner part of the intellectual market relating to the science of biometrics, according to Michael Yura, head of West Virginia University's Forensics Identification Program. The testing also is a step toward broad acceptance of biometrics in everyday life, Yura said.

While the testing program is not expected to have any immediate impact on the area's economy, the U.S. Army -- which is leading the biometrics program -- has always maintained the current site in Bridgeport is a temporary facility, said Tom Gavin, a spokesman for Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

Gavin said the Army has not yet submitted a plan for a permanent facility and he was unsure when that may happen.

Yura said one of the sites mentioned -- Charles Pointe -- meets the Army's criteria generally, although no definite decisions have been made.

Proximity to the FBI's fingerprint center in Clarksburg were a part of early discussions about a permanent facility, Yura said.

"I know this is a strong priority for Sen. Byrd, but at this moment I just don't know," Yura said of a timeline for the facility. "I haven't seen any military budgetary projections for next year."

Biometrics are digitized images of identifiable bodily characteristics such as fingerprints, palm prints or irises.

Although now widely used by the military for security, Yura said biometric identification in civilian life is not far off.

"In the September issue of Discover magazine, they listed 20 things they believe will be obsolete in 20 years. No. 2 on the list was the personal signature," Yura said.