The effort under development, called the Trusted Traveller System, would allow pre-screened travellers to pass through airport security checkpoints quickly, avoiding the long lines and congestion that have become synonymous with airport security in the wake of 11 September.
Based on the group's preliminary plans, people who applied for the programme would be pre-screened by the airlines, having their profiles checked against a number of state and federal databases. Once at the airport, passengers would be identified, either with biometric devices, such as hand-scanners, or with something as simple as a driving licence. At that time, the system would be able to cross-reference the passenger's identification with resources such as the FBI watch list and a federal passenger profiling system, Computer-Assisted Passenger Screening (CAPS).
"It's hard to find the bad guys, but if we know who the good guys are, then we can streamline security for those people," said Tom Roslak, senior director of airport and airline applications at Symbol Technologies.
Participating in the group with Symbol Technologies are IT companies that make database software and manage system integration, Roslak said.
"We work with airlines and large integration partners to create the system. Our devices create a common fabric and are the eyes and ears of the system," he said.
US newspapers last month reported that a federal effort was under way to develop a security ID card for airline passengers that would rely on biometric identification and be linked to government databases. The effort is headed by a federal task force called the Credential Direct Agency Group (CDAG).
The system Symbol is working on would use a similar approach. It could end up looking like a programme used by the immigration service to speed international travellers through airports, according to Roslak. That system uses hand-scanners to identify passengers who registered ahead of time in the security system.
The group will present its research to airlines and, eventually, to the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), a federal body created as a result of new airport security legislation, Roslak said.