Program in the spotlightUS-VISIT

Published 22 July 2008

James Jasinski, CEO, Cogent Systems, comments on a young program that is discharging an immense responsibility

jjasinkiUS-VISIT, a program as simple in concept as it is vast in scope,
incorporates determinations of DHS and the Department of State as to entrance
requirements for travelers to the United States. The program’s
official Web site construes US-VISIT as “helping to demonstrate that we remain
a welcoming nation and that we can keep America’s doors open and our
nation secure.” The major contributor to the security aspect is Cogent Systems,
Inc. (South Pasadena, California), the global
biometric identification solutions provider that supplies digital fingerscan
technology to US-VISIT. Here, Cogent’s James Jasinski offers a capsule view of
the program today.

US-VISIT has proven to be extremely
reliable and available, in that it has incurred only seven minutes of downtime
since it went operational in January of 2004,” Jasinski said. “We’re very proud
of that.” Moreover, he said, the accuracy of the system — impressive to begin
with — has continuously improved over the years between. He defines these
improvements in terms of reliability (finding someone in the system) and
selectivity (avoidance of declaring a biometric match when there is not one).
Both measures have improved significantly over time, even as the system has
grown in numbers of people enrolled in the data base and in volume of activity.
When US VISIT was first deployed, the Cogent technology was getting one million
matches per second for each of its devices. Now it is getting six million
matches per second, and James Jasinski believes it to be the fastest and most
accurate technology of its kind in use anywhere. “Nobody has a larger data
base, or clocks more people through a system,” Jasinski asserted. “The volume
of transactions processed by US-VISIT is the biggest in the world.”


The program covers visitors arriving
from South America, Africa, and Asia, exclusive only of U.S. citizens and persons
entering the country at points along the Mexican and Canadian borders. When the
visitor to be checked arrives at the port of entry, the Cogent system employs a
biometric “matcher” to authenticate that the individual presenting a visa is
indeed the one who obtained it at the consular office overseas. “Authentication
entails a one-to-one fingerprint search,” said Jasinski. “That biometric is all
we use. We do a complete search of the entire data base each and every time. We
don’t consult any demographic data. A photograph of the visitor is taken, but
for visual confirmation only.” The
primary system uses two prints, taken from the index fingers. A move toward
capturing all ten fingerprints is under way, and Cogent is keeping