University ‘stepping up’ to improve airport security

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SCIENTISTS at the University of Ulster are in the process of developing a new hi-tech process for identifying individuals which could revolutionise the security industry.

The cutting edge processes developed by Dr Joan Condell, Professor Girijesh Prasad and research associate Pratheepan Yogarajah in the Intelligent Systems Research Centre on the Magee campus can identify individuals by their gait or the way they walk.

The new system could have a wide variety of applications, such as improving security at airports or high security facilities.

This project has been supported by Invest NI with part finance from the European Regional Development Fund.

Lead investigator Dr Condell - from Coleraine originally and now lives in near Aghadowey - explained how they had used emerging biometric

surveillance techniques to develop IdentiGait, a camera-based intelligent surveillance software solution.

“Biometrics refers to the technologies that measure and analyse distinctive human characteristics. Physiological biometrics can identify individuals from their physical features, such as their voice, DNA or fingerprints. Behavioral biometrics relate to their behaviour, including the way they walk.”

Biometric identifiers are a very reliable way of screening individuals,

Dr Condell added. “Unlike the more traditional means of access control, such as driver’s licence, passport, the use of a password or PIN (personal identification number), biometric identifiers are unique to individuals and cannot be passed off as belonging to someone else,” she said.

“Because of this, they are increasingly used to improve security screening.”

Professor Prasad explained how IdentiGait would effectively automate the identification process by using feature extraction techniques to

capture gait biometrics.

“It could be used to identify potential suspects of crime or terrorism from CCTV footage and then monitor their movements without their

knowledge. It could have many different applications, such as helping to improve security at airports or high-security civilian or military facilities.”