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Balancing Security With Customer Service

IBM, which is working with Schiphol Group to extend iris-scanning technology, is also testing wearable kiosks to expedite the airport check-in process.

As airport security has taken on new dimensions post-Sept. 11, IBM is developing applications and expanding partnerships to help balance security compliance with customer service.

IBM has partnered with Schiphol Group of Amsterdam to extend Schiphol's iris-scanning technology, which has been used to identify travelers at Schiphol Airport over the past six months. IBM will sell the Automatic Border Passage system to airlines and airports around the world and will provide systems integration, hardware, and software. Biometric and personal data collected via the ABP system are stored and read from a smart card rather than a database. Information stored in databases tend to raise more privacy concerns. The data is encrypted on the card using 3 Data Encryption Standard algorithms.

IBM is also testing wearable mobile kiosks that would expedite the check-in process for Air Canada passengers. The wireless kiosk, which ticket agents wear on their belts, is the first product to come out of a previously announced joint marketing and development relationship between IBM and Air Canada. Both companies plan to sell the device to other airlines.

IBM isn't off the mark targeting struggling airlines, says Norman Rose, president and founder of Travel Tech Consulting, Inc. "Airlines know they're bleeding cash," he says, "but they still have to invest in new technologies, otherwise they can't achieve any types of economies."

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