May 21, 2003, 10:29 AM — Fingerprint access systems are currently being trialled at a number of Australian sites including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Ernst & Young LLP and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) facilities.
The MorphoAccess system, which is being provided by French company Sagem SA, analyzes a user's fingerprint and compares it against fingerprints registered on a database.
Mark Runnalls, Ernst & Young e-commerce director, said a small number of employees were initially hesitant about the technology.
"It's a lesson with any sort of technology implementation, you have to explain to people what you are using it for and how you intend to protect that information," he said.
A DFAT spokeswoman said the technology is being used for a single door within its building which is used by the Australian Technical Security Section.
She said no further installations are planned but the department is also involved in a A$3 million (US1.95 million) facial recognition trial with Customs to secure passports.
However, further testing is required to improve the technology's searching techniques.
Sagem Australasia managing director Nicolas Wolff said DFAT has now joined Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in deciding to keep the system.
Wolff said the technology could also be used for secure credit card banking, virtual shopping and mobile phones.
The scanner, which looks like an Eftpos machine, marks about 60 points of the fingertip and compares it to those previously stored on a database.
Depending on the level of access granted to an individual, the 'fingerprint' can control access to a certain room, floor or even several buildings. TAFE has secured a single office used by 15 personnel.