Presenting identification to gain access to a building or board a flight is commonplace in this day and age. And it’s no different in the transportation industry, where precious cargo is being picked up and delivered to sea ports, airports and government facilities, or waiting to cross national borders. Conventional approaches to identification require vehicles to come to a full stop to enable a guard or attendant to inspect driver and vehicle credentials. This approach creates significant delays as vehicles back up waiting for inspection. And while truck drivers wait in long lines at gates to present their IDs, their rigs are idling in the process and creating an ever-expanding carbon footprint.
While patience may be a virtue, long waits are detrimental to productivity and the environment. Waiting in these lines wastes energy and often results in traffic back-ups that extend into surrounding communities, further perpetuating the waste and environmental impact. Based on the emissions and fuel consumption data from a 2002 study conducted by the EPA, on average, a class-8 truck can emit 144 grams/hr of NOX and 8224 grams/hr of CO2, while consuming almost a gallon of diesel fuel per hour.
But the need to reliably verify identity is very real. Secure facilities, whether a port, military base or commercial enterprise, require assurance of identity in order to meet security requirements. Typically, gate operators must not only verify that a specific vehicle has clearance, but also that the driver is who he or she claims to be, and belongs with that vehicle. A known vehicle with an unknown driver approaching a gate may present more of a risk than a completely unknown vehicle.
But what are the options outside of building additional manned security gates that require trucks to stop for a check of the driver’s photo ID and truck identity information? The addition of new lanes involves expensive capital construction projects and increases manpower costs for new guards. It’s simply not a scalable solution to the growth in truck traffic throughout our economy.
Making a Secure Fast Lane
Less than a decade ago, highway transit authorities needed a convenient, user-friendly way to identify vehicles and collect tolls while simultaneously reducing delays at collection points. Today, EZ-Pass™ and Fast Lane transmitters are widely accepted successful solutions that support the collection of revenue on toll highways while keeping traffic flowing. Ideally, we would like to have a “fast lane” to enable vehicles to proceed through security checkpoints and gates without waiting in lines. However, such a fast lane would have to meet very special requirements. Only known vehicles, with known drivers, would be allowed through without stopping, reserving the traditional “full stop” inspection only for unknown vehicles. So how can we “know” identities of vehicles and drivers?
Mobile Biometrics for Fast and Secure Gate Access
RFID windshield tags similar to those used on public toll roads are an effective way of identifying vehicles. Secure versions are available that cannot be removed or tampered with, but while these tags identify the vehicle, they don’t verify the driver’s identity – which is perhaps the most critical part of the problem. Advances in two fields of technology – wireless communications and biometrics – have made an entirely new approach to gate access possible; wireless biometrics that can now provide a secure “fast lane” and ensure positive identification of the vehicle and the driver.
Historically, biometrics readers have been permanent, mounted devices affixed to doors and gates where the user had to stop to submit their fingerprint to the system. It is now possible to incorporate a fingerprint reader into a tiny personal device the size of a key fob, thereby putting a biometric reader in the hands of every user. The fob can communicate wirelessly at distances of up to 100 m (300 feet) to enable biometrically assured gate access at speeds of 15 – 20 mph.
Here’s how it works: As a vehicle approaches a gate, the driver swipes their finger across their personal biometric fob. It compares their live finger to the fingerprint template that was securely stored in their fob when it was issued. After the driver’s identity has been verified, which proves that the device is in the hand of the rightful owner, the fob transmits encrypted credential data via 802.15.4 (an IEEE
standard for wireless communications operating at 2.4 Ghz). The data is received by a transceiver, which decrypts the credential information and passes it to an external gate control system to confirm that the user is authorized for access. The gate is then opened. This entire transaction takes approximately two seconds.
The facility reaps all of the benefits of reliable identity verification without requiring vehicles to stop, or even roll down a window. The result is a dramatic reduction in traffic backups with no compromise in security. In fact, this approach provides significantly heightened levels of security at gates as compared to most manual approaches that just inspect photo IDs, often from afar.
Efficiency and Environmental Benefits
Our modern society has an unprecedented need for security, but that need has to be reconciled with the realities of commercial business. This new approach to an age old problem promises to achieve those often competing goals for secure facilities, while reducing costs and helping to address the environmental challenges of our modern society. The less time spent idling in line means less toxins emitted into the atmosphere, less resources allocated toward rapidly rising fuel costs, and of course, less time dedicated to just one pick up or delivery – all translating into true costs savings for organizations.
Biometrics has traditionally been considered an impediment to speed and productivity, but leveraging a wireless application of this secure technology can solve many of the traffic and environmental concerns that plague gate access solutions today. Implementing a wireless and personal solution will also save both energy and budget-intensive resources – another misconception long-attached to biometrics. But biometrics has finally shifted into high-gear, providing organizations with a gate access solution that puts all drivers in the fast lane.