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Biometric security in the frame for BP

Nick Huber
British Petroleum (BP) is trialling fingerprint scanning technology to cut crime in its petrol station forecourts.

The oil giant is using fingerprint scanning devices at petrol stations in Milton Keynes to authorise staff access to restricted areas, as a more secure alternative to combination code locks.

The company is also considering using controversial facial recognition technology from fixed cameras in forecourts to identify known offenders, although thinking on this is in its early stages, said Charlie Swayne, security adviser for BP retail.

Crimes ranging from people driving off without paying for petrol to armed robbery cost the industry £50m a year, the British Oil Security Syndicate has estimated.

"This [fingerprint technology] project is specifically looking at security and the opportunistic thief," said Swayne. "With push-button access customers can see what codes you are using."

Fingerprint access control devices could be extended to other areas of petrol station forecourts, such as cash tills or outside payment terminals, Swayne added.

If the trial - due to run for another three months and using equipment from various suppliers - is judged a success, BP plans to roll out the technology nationwide.

A growing number of UK organisations, including local authorities and airports, have begun to pump money into biometric technology, which is touted as a way to reduce crime and help to pinpoint terrorists. But tests over the past few years have raised doubts about its reliability in a busy commercial environment - some people have been wrongly identified as being on a police wanted list.

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