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11/27/2002
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Fingerprint System Speeds Password Access

Biometric hardware and software reduces burden on Chicago Housing Authority's help desk

One more call to the three-person IT department of the Chicago Housing Authority requesting to change or reset a network access password would've been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. "It just became overwhelming," says Bryan Land, assistant CIO of the city department that provides housing for low-income people. To overcome this challenge, the IT department decided to deploy biometric hardware and software on the desktops of 1,000 housing-authority employees.

The housing authority is using a fingerprint-scanning USB mouse developed by BioLink and distributed by Idynta Systems Inc. Each mouse costs up to $90 each. The authority also purchased the BioLink Authenteon Server that searches and matches fingerprint submissions against a database of authorized users in the network for $15,000.

About 200 employees are using the biometric system, and that has "reduced the burden on the help desk," Land says. All 1,000 employees should have access to the biometric system by next summer. Currently, the authority's IT team is developing a way to use the fingerprint technology to grant application access based on individual roles and employment status within the organization. Land says, "My goal is to have that available in 90 days."

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