The Massachusetts Port Authority is arming state troopers with wireless handheld devices to check on passengers, airport employees and vehicles in a pilot programme at Boston's Logan Airport.
Logan officials are using the system as part of an effort to strengthen security after terrorists boarded passenger jets on 11 September last year.
About 140 state troopers will have access to the National Crime Information Center using technology from Aether Systems that delivers data to BlackBerry handheld devices.
The devices will allow troopers to run a check on outstanding warrants, previous felonies or stolen vehicles. The troopers can also send instant messages. Before the devices were available, troopers had to radio or telephone inquires and then wait for responses.
"As our troopers patrol terminals and garages randomly interviewing passengers, this technology allows them to check immediately if an individual is wanted by law enforcement," said Thomas Kinton, acting executive director at the Port Authority.
Kinton explained that the troopers have been trained to scroll through the menu and send simple queries to a distant computer about a suspect's criminal history. A 'hit' automatically sends an alarm to other troopers also carrying a BlackBerry device.
Mike Mancuso, group president of Aether Systems, said that Logan is leading the way for airports around the country in implementing security procedures.
The programme will be tested for another month or two before the Port Authority decides if it wants to pay for the service. About 1000 local, state and federal agencies, including New York City's fire department, pay for Aether's services, Mancuso said, adding that more than 60,000 public safety officials use its products.
Similarly, biometric firm EyeTicket is pushing its iris-scanning product to help airports identify passengers, and CompuDyne has unveiled products tailored for airport security.
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