AFSFC innovates to develop virtual visitor passes

The Air Force Security Forces Center is testing a virtual process to streamline visitor-pass requests and reduce foot traffic at visitor control centers across the force.

The DBIDS Defense Biometric Identification System Visitor Enrollment System uses smart devices and the current Defense Biometric Identification System’s web-based functionality to link requesters, sponsors and VCCs in a virtual process to issues passes, said Melia Goodman, AFSFC Law and Order Division access control chief.

“Our goal is to gain efficiencies and move toward a virtual platform where security forces can receive data and issue visitor passes without physically interacting with the requestor,” Goodman said. “DVES is an innovative, no-cost solution that uses the existing capabilities of the Defense Biometric Identification System, with the addition of the pre-enrollment site, to get passes into the hands of visitors quicker.”

Goodman said visitors fill out the pre-enrollment registration from any computer or smart device and receive a QR and alphanumeric code, which they provide to the sponsor along with a scanned copy of their driver’s license. The sponsor then adds the dates and times of the visit and emails it to the VCC. After a successful background check, the system creates and emails back a pass the visitor presents at the entry point for scanning. The entire process happens without the need to enter the VCC.

AFSFC first tested DVES in their lab at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and then conducted a larger scale, 90-day beta test at Ellington Field Air National Guard Base in Houston.

“We chose Ellington Field due to its proximity to (JB San Antonio-Lackland) and its unique mission set,” Goodman said. “The DVES process proved highly beneficial for the Air National Guard Base as the majority of their other 73 installations don’t have physical visitor control centers.”

More than 200 visitor passes were issued and collected-metrics identified a 50% reduction in pass-processing times, along with a significant reduction in VCC foot traffic during the three-month DVES testing at Ellington Field, Goodman added.

Master Sgt. Michael Larsen, 147th Security Forces Squadron plans and programs manager and base security officer, said DVES let his Airmen get back to their mission.

“It used to take (up to) 15 minutes to issue a pass,” Larsen said. “This meant taking a Defender off their post to fill out the visitor’s info when they arrived at the VCC. With DVES, all that is done online by the visitor and all we have to do is do the security checks, which can be done when traffic slows down at the entry point.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time with COVID-19, Larsen added.

“With all the information preloaded onto DVES, the visitor and the sponsor do not have to physically enter a VCC or interact with Defenders, keeping everyone safe,” Larsen said.

With testing at Ellington Field completed, the team is in the beginning stages of testing at JB San Antonio-Randolph and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

“The higher throughput and operations tempo at an active-duty installation will allow us to fully test the enabling concept document, or process steps, that will provide the security forces enterprise the step-by-step instructions to implement the DVES process,” Goodman said.

Following the operational testing, the AFSFC team will finalize the enabling concept document and work toward full implementation of DVES by summer 2021, she added.

The DVES process is phase one of a multi-phase innovation effort to make the visitor pass process completely virtual. Future phases will add features to allow document upload, fingerprinting, photo collection and automated vetting.

“DVES is just one part of AFSFC’s mission, which is to provide subject-matter expertise to the field to drive integration, innovation and advancement of security forces mission sets across the Air Force,” said Derrick Austin, AFSFC Law and Order Division chief. “We must continue to deliver innovative solutions like this as part of the AFIMSC team and support our mission to deliver globally integrated installation and mission support to enhance warfighter readiness and lethality for America’s Air and Space Forces.”

AFSFC is a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

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