Friday, April 11, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

I travel about 400,000 miles a year.

I can tolerate the late departures and arrivals, the surly airline staff, and the sardine-like seating arrangements, but the unpredictability of the security screening process is a nightmare. Sometimes I arrive at an airport and jog through the security line in minutes. Many times I arrive to find a security line longer than a football field with an hour long wait, causing me to miss my flight.

Given that I'm a trustworthy traveler who only carries a toothbrush and an extra pair of socks, should I wait in the same line as the once a year traveler with a bag full of liquids/gels, a giant carry on suitcase, and a stroller?

The notion of a "Registered traveler", who is trustworthy and carries non-repudiatable identity credentials makes a great deal of sense.

Clear has implemented a fast pass for airport security with a process and a smart card. It's the Cool Technology of the Week. Clear members are pre-screened via a government approval process and carry an identity card which allows them to access designated airport security "fast lanes" nationwide. In my experience at Orlando, Dulles, Reagan, and San Francisco, Clear members pass through airport security faster, with more predictability.

The smart card contains basic demographic data - name and address, but also contains biometric data including a photograph, height, fingerprints and iris scans.

Enrollment is a two step process - an online application and in person identity verification.

The identity verification is completed at a Clear enrollment station (airports supporting the technology), where a Clear staffer verifies two government issued IDs, takes your picture, captures your iris and fingerprint scan, then submits everything to the government for clearance.

Clear's identity theft policy is well thought out and minimizes the risk to the Clear members if their database or card technology is compromised.

The price is $100 per year plus the TSA vetting fee of $28.

I plan on completing my Clear enrollment on my next flight to Washington DC in May. Once I have the card, I can bypass security lines and go directly to baggage screening.

The number of airports supported Clear is growing, but just the support for the Washington DC and San Francisco airports make it worthwhile for me, since I pass through these dozens of times per year. Making the airport experience a little more predictable is about the best way I can improve my mental health in 2008, so Clear is a definitely cool technology.


Unknown said...

Have you read Bruce Schneier's Op-Ed on Clear in the NY Times? He raises some valid concerns. He has some additional articles linked from his web site on the topic (Look below the article for the additional links).

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

I signed up at the Orlando airport back when the program first started. It has been great and the experience has been the same at each airport added consistently fast and easy. I did have an issue with a replacement card at the Orlando airport getting back to Boston after HIMSS and the Clear staff was very helpful. Hope you have the same easy of use.