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Greasing visitor passes at military bases with biometric systems

Greasing visitor passes at military bases with biometric systems

Web-based biometric base passes developed by the U.S. Air Force have been deployed at a handful of military facilities to cut foot traffic at their gates. Not surprisingly, there are other, similar efforts underway.

The new tool, with a typically long and redundant military name — Defense Biometric ID System Visitor Enrollment System, or DVES — replaces a procedure that at other facilities still results in base visitors spending time at gate visitor offices getting paper passes.

Time spent in those offices by visitors who do not have permanent credentials to be on base cuts gate personnel productivity, eats the time of visitors and their base sponsors and increases the chance of COVID transmission.

A U.S. Air Force public affairs article describes a new biometrics-based process in which visitors register for an appointment online and get QR and alphanumeric approval codes. Visitors send their sponsor their codes and scanned driving license.

After a successful background check, a base pass is automatically emailed to a visitor, who presents it to security personnel without having to enter a gate visitor office.

The pass process is no small matter. Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, which has deployed DVES issue 1.7 million passes annually, according to the Air Force. Another 250,000 passes are printed each year for basic training graduation ceremonies.

A more detailed description of the San Antonio-Lackland setup can be found here.

Ninety-day DVES biometric pilot projects were launched last fall at two military bases in Texas and one if Florida. According to the Air Force, all saw pass-processing times and foot traffic in visitor offices fall.

Ellington Field, in Texas, reportedly cut processing time in half and saw 70 percent less foot traffic.

Face-biometrics vendor Trueface last fall was awarded a similar Air Force ID authentication contract to make the visitor-pass process faster and safer during the pandemic. The system was deployed at Eglin Air Force Base and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to eliminate physical contact with security officers.

And, as of last December, the U.S. Army had contracted with Idemia National Security Solutions also to create a biometrics-based permissions process at its Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Ala.

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