Integrated Biometrics provides 5,000 Kojak fingerprint scanners for CBP land and sea ports

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has purchased 5,000 Kojak livescan FAP 60 10-fingerprint scanners from Integrated Biometrics to secure the country’s ports of entry.

The majority of the newly-acquired scanners are in operation at busy airports including Atlanta, Chicago, Dulles, LAX, and Miami, with thousands more set to be installed at other CBP facilities in the coming months, according to the company’s announcement. CBP chose IB’s Kojak scanners with Light Emitting Sensor (LES) technology to replace glass-prism fingerprint technology acquired by CBP about 10 years ago, Integrated Biometrics CEO Stephen Thies told Biometric Update in an interview. Advantages of Kojak scanners the company says CBP can benefit from include ease of use, the lack of costly silicon membranes, and reduced maintenance. Using fingerprint biometrics for border entry also enables CBP to avoid the contentious debate about potential racial bias in facial biometric systems.

Entry checks are also a significantly different use case from CBP’s Biometric Exit, better suited by fingerprints than facial biometrics. Fingerprint biometrics enable CBP to leverage both the largest biometric database in the country, as well as the international watchlist database, to prevent dangerous individuals from entering the U.S., Thies explains.

CBP operates a total of 328 points of presence, from huge international airports with hundreds of workstations to small border outposts with a single scanner. The new deployment covers all locations, with averaging roughly 16 units per point of CBP presence. With 60,000 employees, CBP manages customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at U.S. borders, keeping terrorists out of the country while facilitating lawful trade and travel, IB says in the announcement. CBP processes nearly a million visitors, screens more than 67,000 cargo containers, arrests more than a thousand suspects, and seizes nearly 6 tonnes of illegal drugs each day on average.

IB scanners are also used in more than fifty countries around the world, including by border control authorities in Mexico, South Korea, Ukraine, and Peru, and Thies is enthusiastic about the growth of the global border control market.

“For us it’s a great case study and a large deployment of our product that gives us visibility in the business,” Thies says. “Border patrol in other countries is equally challenging. The developing world is doing some things similar to what our CBP does; they mimic the U.S. in a lot of activities.”

Thies points out that in many countries, border control processes require a mix of workstations, which the Kojak is designed for, and mobile capabilities supported by smaller scanners such as the Five-O. The Kojak is still roughly one-third the size of the scanner it replaces for CBP, according to Thies.

Thies notes that fingerprints are still the dominant method for combining convenience with highly secure and accurate identification, despite increasing recognition of the convenience of facial recognition and other, newer biometric factors.

“There’s a place for that, but that’s not what we do. We make high-performance biometrics for high-performance databases where security really matters.”

He includes airports and other border crossings, stadiums, national ID programs and social services, and SIM registrations among the growing use cases for high-performance identity systems.

While the expansion of biometric use cases and broad growth in deployments are good for the industry, rising demand is also motivating shifts in the market which Thies says can create additional challenges for customers.

“There’s a lot of churn in the industry with companies being bought, and if you pick up the phone you may not know who you’re going to talk to month to month,” he says. “IB is customer-focused, and we’re laser-focused on fingerprint biometric sensors. We believe our strategy is a winning strategy for the benefits that we bring to the end user, and our integrators around the world enjoy the opportunity to compete for business with us.”

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