County government selects biometric solution

August 2003 Access Control & Identity Management

Chesterfield County in Virginia, USA, has implemented the company's HandReaders from IR Recognition Systems to provide off-hours access at the county's main administration building. HandReaders positively authenticate users by the shape and size of their hands, not their keys, cards or codes.

"We needed a positive identifier for people carrying out critical county functions at off-hour times," explains Dennis Lacey, Chesterfield County security coordinator. "Biometrics is the only way you can positively identify who comes into a building. At the same time, we need to assure that all those authorised to get into the building can do so, not be blocked because their biometrics are not being read. These false rejections can become a major reliability problem. We feel that fingerprint technology relies on too small an area to avoid the problems of false rejects. Meanwhile, hand geometry takes its data points from an entire hand. From a technology standpoint, it is simply much easier to consistently get a good image from a big hand rather than a small finger.

"We also felt that there would be too much employee resistance to iris/retinal scan," Lacey adds. "People are uncomfortable putting their eye near a device and positioning themselves for the reader is just too time consuming." According to Lacey, the county's existing access control system for the five-storey main administration building, linked to a three-storey and two-storey wing and police administration building, is comprised of mechanical keys and the HandReader.

"It is too expensive and time-consuming to replace missing keys," Lacey emphasises. "We often have to search for people who leave our employment to get our keys back, since the key represents a part of their career. We are looking at adding more HandReaders to other doors of this building as well as other buildings. We have actually had comments from the highest levels of county administration to do so." Chesterfield County asked Dominion Lock, its integrator, to create a custom housing for the HandReader to protect it from the environmental elements as well as provide a shelf for packages.

"We can have some pretty nasty weather along the James River," Lacey reports. "We get into the teens during the winter and get both snow and ice. In the summers, we can experience strong downpours. I would not hesitate to recommend HandReaders for positive identification," says Lacey.

For more information contact IR Recognition Systems,

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