Technology companies throughout the U.S. are preparing to bid on a new government project: the US VISIT program. US VISIT, to be implemented at the end of the year, will track every foreigner that crosses a U.S. border, air or sea port. While the program will depend upon existing technologies during its early stages, by May 2004, the Department of Homeland Security intends to award the development of US VISIT to one company, with the hope that a new system will be in place at all border crossings, air and sea ports by December 2005.
While development of US VISIT will most likely be awarded to one of the major U.S. defense firms, such as Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman, many smaller firms will most likely be involved in subcontracts and backbone development of the new technology. One such company is Minnesota’s Identix. Identix is the only company in the world that makes mobile biometric readers that scan two fingerprints. The US VISIT program scans two fingerprints and there will be many situations where a mobile scanner in necessitated (e.g.: embarking or arriving sea vessels).
However, there are major concerns related to the implementation of the US VISIT program. There are roughly 600 million border crossings per year. According to some government studies, the US VISIT program may add up to nine extra seconds wait time per border crossing. That accounts to up to 11 hour wait periods at certain border points; a wait time that would assuredly devastate international trade and cross-border traffic. Governmental officials, however, have stated to representatives of interested technological firms that the US VISIT program must not add more than two seconds additional time to border crossings.