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1/23/2006
06:34 PM
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New Jersey Grade School Institutes Iris Scanning

Parents picking up children at Freehold Borough School District will need to submit to an iris scan before being allowed entrance.

When a parent arrives to pick up her child at one of three grade schools in the Freehold Borough School District, she'll need to look into a camera that will take a digital image of her iris. That photo will establish positive identification to gain entrance into the school.

Funding for the project, more than $369,000, was made possibly by a school safety grant through the National Institute of Justice, a research branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. "The idea is to improve school safety for the children," said Phil Meara, superintendent, Freehold Borough School District, on Monday. "We had a swipe-card system that operated the doors, but the technology was obsolete."

Installation of the iris technology began in October. The system is now operational after two months of testing. The Teacher-Parent Authorization Security System (T-PASS), a software application developed by Eyemetric Identity Systems, was installed on the front office computers at each of the three schools.

It took software engineers about nine months to develop the platform. Two technicians were hired by the school board to provide IT support for maintenance and updates to the platform. School participation in the 18-month study is voluntary.

Parents with children who attend any of the three schools in the district, teachers who instruct students attending classes at the locations, and staff employees are assigned access rights. Four adults per child may be approved in the system.

The platform provides entry-access controls, visitor management, and the capability to scan a driver's license from any state and automatically import the information into the database. "The file size created when the camera takes a picture of the iris to match it against records in the database is about 512 kilobytes," said Raymond Bolling, co-founder of Eyemetric Identity Systems, a spin off of New Jersey Business Systems Inc., which specializes in biometric identification.

The system takes a digital photograph of the iris, the color portion of the eye, each time a parent, teacher, administrator, or school employee gains access to the school. "The algorithm can map out up to 242 unique points in the iris," Bolling said. "A good fingerprint patch is anywhere from seven to 22 points."

The algorithms for iris scanning are licensed through LG Electronics from Iridian Technologies Inc. The software, which keeps a log and digital record of any visitor entering the school, replaces a four-column paper spreadsheet.

Global biometric revenues are projected to grow from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $5.7 billion in 2010, according International Biometric Group. Iris scanning is emerging, albeit slowly. The research firm said iris recognition revenues are expected to exceed $250 million by 2008.

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