Processing Exit Visas
From Federal Computer Week:
The Homeland Security Department will choose in the next 60 days which of three procedures it will use to track international visitors leaving the United States, department officials said today.
A report evaluating the three methods under consideration is due in the next few weeks, said Anna Hinken, spokeswoman for US-VISIT, the program that screens foreign nationals entering and exiting the country to weed out potential terrorists.
The first process uses kiosks located throughout an airport or seaport. An “exit attendant”—who would be a contract worker, Hinken said—checks the traveler’s documents. The traveler then steps to the station, scans both index fingers and has a digital photo taken. The station prints out a receipt that verifies the passenger has checked out.
The second method requires the passenger to present the receipt when reaching the departure gate. An exit attendant will scan the receipt and one of the passenger’s index fingers using a wireless handheld device. If the passenger’s fingerprint matches the identity on the receipt, the attendant returns the receipt and the passenger can board.
The third procedure uses just the wireless device at the gate. The screening officer scans the traveler’s fingerprints and takes a picture with the device, which is similar in size to tools that car-rental companies use, Hinken said. The device wirelessly checks the US-VISIT database. Once the traveler’s identity is confirmed as safe, the officer prints out a receipt and the visitor can pass.
Properly evaluating this trade-off would look at the relative ease of attacking the three systems, the relative costs of the three systems, and the relative speed and convenience—to the traveller—of the three systems. My guess is that the system that requires the least amount of interaction with a person when boarding the plane is best.