The Statue of Liberty has been reopened for visits again after being closed immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attack. As you might expect, security is heavy on the island. That security even extends to high-tech lockers that open by fingerprints. You might want to know about this new technology in advance if you are planning a visit.
The new security rules limit what you can take with you: no pocket knives, no large packages, and even handbags are discouraged. Visitors pass through metal detectors and also have to empty their pockets. The contents of handbags and camera bags are searched. The visitors are encouraged to leave as many items as possible in public lockers before passing through the security checkpoints.
One problem with typical public lockers is those who use them frequently lose keys. A biometric solution seems to be a logical choice; the new lockers at the Statue of Liberty can only be opened by reading a fingerprint. A fingerprint image is stored when the visitor rents the locker. An identical fingerprint is then required to open the locker at a later time. This ensures that only the person who rented the locker is able to open it. Nobody has yet lost a finger while visiting the Statue of Liberty.
Fingerprint biometric systems generally work by reducing the image of a print to a template, a mathematic algorithm that gets stored in a database and can be checked when the person returns for later scans. In applications like the biometric lockers, the print itself is not stored or sent to authorities.
The implementation at the Statue of Liberty has not been smooth, however. Some people were befuddled by the system and had to put their fingers on the reader several times before a scan was properly made. Others forgot their locker number upon their return, or didn't remember which finger they had used to check it out. One young woman accidentally put her ticket to the statue in the locker, requiring her to open it and then re-register it all over again with another finger scan.
Three touchscreen kiosks control the bank of 170 lockers. With all the confusion, lines at the kiosks frequently stretched six or seven people deep, requiring a five-minute wait.
"I think it's overly complicated. It takes too much time," said Stephen Chemsak, 26, who lives in Japan. For him, the old-fashioned key system would have been much better. However, Taiwanese visitor Yu-Sheng Lee, 26, said, “It’s easy,” after stowing a bag. "I think it's good. I don't have to worry about a key or something like that."
I wonder what our immigrant ancestors sailing past the Statue of Liberty would have thought about such technology.