Here’s a new metric to consider: biometrics. Used to verify an employee’s identity before granting access to a building or room, biometric devices — including finger, hand, eye, and face scanners, as well as signature and voice verification systems — are becoming more common among big and small businesses alike.

In fact, International Biometrics Group says that industry revenues in 2001 will jump 13 percent from last year’s total, to $524 million.

Many large companies relegate biometrics to secure rooms and data centers, because employers are reluctant to say they don’t trust their workers, says Bob Mannal, senior manager of KPMG LLP’s Information Risk Management practice. Small businesses, such as check-cashing outlets and jewelry stores, deploy biometrics to expedite identity checks or curb crime, he adds.

The price tag for a typical hand-scanner system is about $10,000, 50 percent more than a key-card system, says Scott Adams, sales manager of New York-based Mutual Central Alarm Services Inc. But unlike the latter, of course, a hand scanner doesn’t require employees to memorize codes or carry cards.

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