Friday, June 29, 2012

Ghana: Some public sector workers to be paid using biometrics

Gov't to use biometric data to pay workers (Ghana Web)
Public sector workers will now be paid using their biometric data, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has said.

This follows the completion of the biometric payroll registration exercise in six regions and the expectation that a similar exercise in the remaining four regions will be completed in July this year

European Commission Approves Biometric Driving Licenses

Smart driving licences coming to UK (PR Web at Yahoo!)
The EC has given the go-ahead for new plastic licences to include biometric data on drivers, but no address, and these could come into effect as soon as 2015, by which time the UK Government has said it wants to end the need for the paper counterpart to the present licence.
The press release seems to have been put out by I didn't find any additional information on the biometric license there, but I did find this, which is fun:

I say Rupert, slow down! Diamond Insurance has revealed the Top Ten men’s and women’s names associated with speeding offences.

Adding a "te" onto the end of Juliet's name doesn't slow her down much at all. Juliet is #1; Juliette is #6 on the list for women.

University of Southampton Showing Off World-Changing Research Including Biometrics

Join University of Southampton's free 60th anniversary celebrations (Daily Echo)
The institution is holding a special open day tomorrow at its Highfield Campus, aimed at showing off some of the world-changing research that has been carried out there over the last 60 years.

Unique experiences on offer will range from the chance to watch exciting demonstrations in some of the university’s cutting-edge hi-tech laboratories, to poring over historical pictures and documents from through the centuries in its Special Collections Archive.
Visitors will be able to discover their own “signature” of the way they walk thanks to the world’s only electronics and computer science (ECS) Biometric Tunnel.

Sounds fun!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A case for Iris as the Killer Modality

Jeff Carter has made his TEDxEast talk, "Your Eye Will Unlock The World," available online (YouTube).

He's also on Twitter at @EyeLock_1.

First-hand account of a "Vacation in Utopia"

A delightful vignette of a possible biometric future written by Dr. Ben Ajayi...

You are unique and wonderfully made (Nigerian Tribune)
The billboard was not done with me as it flashed another page for me to read, “Dr. Ben, you are unique and wonderfully made. Of all persons alive today and even those who have lived before you since the beginning of time not one is like you. Your voice is special; no other fingerprints are like yours; no-one looks like you; speaks exactly like you; laughs like you; walks like you with your exact weight, height and mannerism. We use all these facts in our data base to identify you. Do please feel free to enjoy our country.”

h/t @m2sys

Unlock Your Computer With Your Face

Free trial (30 uses) available at CNET's

I haven't tried it but it looks well thought out and has some cool features. I like the feature where it takes a picture of anyone snooping around machine.
KeyLemon logs you in to your computer by using your face. More than just a glorified Webcam tool, it regularly checks to make sure that it really is you using the computer. The latest version of the app also comes with a neat Firefox plug-in called LemonFox, for added protection when logging into Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Does Apple's Siri store users' biometrics?

Wiping Away Your Siri "Fingerprint" (Technology Review)
Even in an age of vanishing privacy, people using Apple's digital assistant Siri share a distinct concern. Recordings of their actual voices, asking questions that might be personal, travel over the Internet to a remote Apple server for processing. Then they remain stored there; Apple won't say for how long.

That voice recording, unlike most of the data produced by smart phones and other computers, is an actual biometric identifier...
The article doesn't insinuate that Apple is misbehaving or planning to misbehave with the data it records from Siri users, but it raises interesting questions about how the data is, or could be, used.

There are many very good reasons, related to improving performance, for Apple to maintain a huge database of actual recordings of Siri queries.

Accent, gender, region, nationality, age, grammar. There's an amazing variety of ways people express themselves compared to the essence of what they actually mean.

How do different people ask the same question? "Where's the nearest sub shop?" "Where's the nearest hoagie shop?" Is it the same question?

But the article rightly points out that those recordings are, or at some point may be, biometric identifiers, so it's wise to recognize them as such.

So, the short answer to the title question is "yes." But if users record a personalized voice mail message, the cellular provider stores the a user's biometric in exactly the same sense. If a mobile device user takes a picture of herself and uses a cloud storage service, that service stores her (face) biometric. It's wort keeping these things in mind but also in perspective.

See also: Voice Recognition ≠ Speech Recognition

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

India: State of Haryana tightens ID management surrounding orphanages and Child Care Institutions

Now, biometric system for orphanage inmates (Times of India)
In a bid to overhaul the monitoring mechanism in orphanages, the Haryana government is planning to introduce biometric system for inmates and child mapping in every district.

In Gurgaon, over a dozen orphanages and child homes are operating and many of these are yet to be registered as per the recent guidelines issued by the state government. After the shocking Apna Ghar incident, all the orphanages and Child Care Institutions (CCI) have been directed to get registered in the prescribed format before June 30.
The Apna Ghar shelter house incident was a shocking abuse of vulnerable people and I'd be curious to read more about how biometric technologies are to be applied to making sure similar abuses don't occur.

Philippines Health Care company introducing Face Recognition for patient ID

Maxicare eyeing wider network in provinces (Manila Times)
...Maxicare will begin the circulation of the enhanced feature card for health care that can also use as a cash card. It is named “My Maxicare lite” and uses Facial Biometrics that will help health establishments view a Maxicare member’s profile and medical records through facial biometric technology. This is a first of its kind in the Philippines.

Maxicare is now partnered with 27,000 accredited doctors and specialists, 1,000 hospitals and clinics and an about 3,500 dental experts nationwide.

NSADAQ Poster Bullish on UID

India’s new biometric identity system will help alleviate poverty (NSADAQ)
Over the past few months, we've been rather critical of the inefficacy of Indian government policy towards the economy (and rightly so). However, it would be disingenuous to claim that endless bureaucracy has impeded every initiative the government has undertaken. Rather, in one instance, it's been quite the opposite: the attempts by the Indian government to introduce a biometric identity system are a rare instance of dynamism in the behemoth Indian government.

A Hundred Pounds of Cocaine Seized Despite Several Security Breaches

Convicted drug smuggler breached security 7 times (Richmond Review)
Ironically, his unauthorized access to the customs hall was recorded by a new technology introduced the same year Von Holtum was caught, and designed to sound alarm bells.

Billed in January of 2007 by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority as "the world's first dual biometric airport identification program for non-passengers acccessing restricted areas of the airport," the RAIC (Restricted Area Identity Card) program was designed to detect and record the comings and goings of airport personnel, including whenever they enter restricted zones.
Security systems can be complex, especially in places like airports. For them to work, they have to bee well planned and someone has to be paying attention to them. In this case, it looks like there wasn't a mechanism in place to bring several instances of odd behavior to the attention of officials.

Security technology, however awesome, can't manage an organization. People have to do that.

On the other hand, security is usually redundant and provided in layers. The hundred-or-so pounds of cocaine, after all, was seized.

Swiss retain visa-free travel to the US

Swiss nationals will continue to benefit from visa-free entry to the United States for stays of up to 90 days after the two countries initialled an agreement on the issue on Wednesday.

The US had posed two conditions to countries wishing to remain in the visa-waiver programme. On the one hand, it wanted an exchange of finger prints and DNA data in order to prevent and combat serious crime (PCSC); on the other, it wanted an exchange of data on known or suspected terrorists.

Monday, June 25, 2012

UID Back on in Pune

UID phase II begins in rural parts of Pune (Times of India)
According to the district administration, an identity proof, residence and birth date proofs are required at the time of enrollment. After filling up the detailed form, the officials at the centres collect the biometric impressions of fingers and the iris scans of the applicants. After completion of formalities, a 12-digit UID is issued. A receipt is given to the applicant at the time of enrollment and the UID number card is sent by post to the applicant's address.
It's good to see UID back at work.

But doesn't requiring an identity proof, residence and birth date proof before issuing a UID number make it harder to give an ID to those who haven't been able to get one in the past? I seem to remember that there was some mechanism in the UID system whereby neighbors and relatives could vouch for the identity of undocumented persons to get them an Aadhaar number.

Blogging Will Be Light Today & Tomorrow

We're installing and training on some facial recognition systems in a couple of New Jersey hospitals so for the next couple of days there might not be as much action as you're accustomed to seeing around here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fingerprint at a Distance

New fingerprint reader captures prints from 6 meters away (
IDair makes a machine that Burcham says can photographically capture a fingerprint from as far away as six meters in enough detail to match against a database. Add facial and iris-recognition technology, Burcham said, and you have the basis for a good biometrics system that can control access to any building or room within a building.

Who needs this level of security? "Sooner, rather than later, we're all going to need it," Burcham said in a recent interview at his office at Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

Artificial Intelligence & Multimodal Biometrics

Neural network mimics the brain for improved decision-making in biometric security systems (EurekAlert!)
"Our goal is to improve accuracy and as a result improve the recognition process," says Gavrilova, a professor in the Faculty of Science. "We looked at it not just as a mathematical algorithm, but as an intelligent decision making process and the way a person will make a decision."

The algorithm can learn new biometric patterns and associate data from different data sets, allowing system to combine information, such as fingerprint, voice, gait or facial features, instead of relying on a single set of measurements.
A system like this is a very long way from seeing the light of day in an actual real-world deployment, but the concept strikes me as having huge potential for extremely complex high value deployments of the future such as airport ID.

More on TWIC Expiration for Truckers

TSA offers three-year TWIC card renewal plan for certain cardholders (Land Line)
Beginning in August, TSA will allow current TWIC cardholders whose TWIC cards expire on or before Dec. 31, 2014, to pay $60 and make one trip to an enrollment center. Cardholders will call the TWIC help desk at 1-866-DHS-TWIC (347-8942). Once their card is ready, they can pick the card up at an enrollment center.

See also:
TWIC: Licensed Hazmat Truckers Can Skip a Background Check, Save Money
Why is the TWIC So Expensive?

Biometrics ID Child Abuser Entering the US for the Fourth Time

Border Patrol Agents arrest convicted sex offender (Deming Headlight)
The subject's biographical and biometric information was submitted into the "Integrated Automated Identification System," or IAFIS. The system positively identified the subject and revealed that Ramos-Ruiz had a prior conviction from Iowa for sexual assault with intent to commit sexual abuse with-a-child in August 1987. The information also stated that he had been imprisoned for a period of two years.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Delays threaten Uganda National ID and Voter Registration System

Uganda: Govt to Delay National ID Project Again (All Africa)
"We are all concerned about the IDs. We have written to the ministry of finance pleading. We have put pressure for additional funds but maybe the resource envelope is small. We shall try to work within what was given and try a phased approach," Onek resignedly said.

In 2010 government signed a 64m Euros (sh205b) agreement with Muehlbauer High Tech International for the supply of equipment and provision of training services. The goal was to set up a biometric register upon which the issuance of ID cards and numbers will be based under the National Security Information System (NSIS) Project. The government has paid Muehlbauer 51m (163b) Euros and owes them 13m Euros (sh42b).

The Electoral Commission has also expressed concerns about the effect of delay of implementation of the Project on the commission's continuous by-elections and general elections of 2016.

Nepal struggles with Citizenship, ID infrastructure

Getting Nepali citizenship is a tough call (BBC)
Sharad Bheswakar, top cricketer and sporting icon in Nepal, is not actually a Nepali. At least officially, he is not a citizen of the country he calls home.

He was born and raised in Nepal and plays for the national team. He has an Indian father and a Nepali mother, so getting citizenship should not be a problem according to the law of the land.

But his efforts to acquire Nepali citizenship so far have been futile.

"It's been almost eight to nine years that I've been trying to get my citizenship. I'm still facing problems. It's really frustrating at times," he says.

A few years ago, he was given a travel document as a special concession so he could play in matches abroad.
Biometric solutions could help in the implementation of what comes out of a political process but they can't substitute for the process.

Some India UID News

Nilekani blocks Chidambaram’s ID card project (DNA)
Note: There's not as much fire in the article as the title's smoke would indicate.

Govt committee to review residential ID card scheme (WSJ - LiveMint)
Another take on the above developments.

Dikshit Asks Nilekani to Expedite Adhaar Enrollments in Delhi (Outlook India)
Faster, please.

Biometric Technologies Market: Forecast & Analysis

Markets & Markets has a new report out today.

Next Generation Biometric Technologies Market: Global Forecast & Analysis 2012-2017

One key take-away...
The global biometric technology, types, and applications market is expected to reach $13.89 billion by 2017 at an estimated CAGR of 18.7%. North America is a market leader in biometric technology market.

The Future: An Early Arrival at Love Field?

More and more people fly and the joy the experience brings has been at a continuous ebb since well before 9-11. We all know it is a drudge, and many of us remember it being different.

So, it's not hard to see why brainstorming and daydreaming the Future of Air Travel™ is something of a cottage industry.

For examples, see:
Aviation Industry Researchers Predict Major Airport Overhauls Over the Next 15 Years,
Biometrics Will Enable the Takeoffs of Tomorrow, or
IATA Floats Airport Security Revamp

But most of us won't need examples. We've had plenty of time to write all three of the above posts and the articles they reference while waiting our turn behind the travelers who arrived before us at the security checks to participate in the security ritual.

As Charles Dudley Warner* once said, "Everybody talks about how lame air travel has become, but nobody does anything about it."

Until now...

'Checkpoint of the future' takes shape at Texas airport (USA Today)
At a terminal being renovated here at Love Field, contractors are installing 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt.

The cameras, capable of tracking passengers from the parking garage to gates to the tarmac, are a key first step in creating what the airline industry would like to see at airports worldwide: a security apparatus that would scrutinize passengers more thoroughly, but less intrusively, and in faster fashion than now.
According to this article, it's actually being built, now, at Love Field, the spiritual and corporate home of Southwest Airlines.

This comes not a moment too soon. Another tidbit of the article sheds light on how the status quo just can't hold:
The Federal Aviation Administration projects the number of passengers flying inside the USA will nearly double in the next 20 years, to 1.2 billion. Security has slowed since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Before then, about 350 people passed through checkpoints each hour, the IATA says. A November survey at 142 airports found processing times fell to 149 an hour, with the worst at 60, Dunlap says.
The math buried in this paragraph just doesn't work out. The number of air passengers simply can't double in the next twenty years if the current trend in security throughput continues.

1. Due to a lack of security capacity, passengers will be unable to get to their planes in time (or they will have to arrive at the airport so early that many will opt to drive to their destination), or
2. Expanding the current security apparatus to handle twice the volume will drive up the cost of air travel affecting demand.

Incremental change will no longer do. Each additional security hurdle added in response to a novel security threat brings the entire system one step closer to collapse. The air travel industry's future depends not upon a rethink (Future of Air Travel™) but on a radical reinvention and implementation of the security apparatus.

Thankfully, unlike the weather, someone's finally doing something about it. Biometrics can, and will, help.

 *Not Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More tweets than posts today...

I'm attending this event, today, so blogging will be light.

I am, however, trying to keep up with what's going on here with our Twitter feed.

The first two speakers, FBI Asst. Dir. David Cuthbertson of CJIS and Col. Douglas L. Flohr, Deputy Dir. for Operations, Army Biometrics ID Management Agency (BIMA), were very informative.

UPDATE: For a rundown on the day's events, check out the Twitter hashtag #TechConnectWVa.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I want one of these...

...but then, who wouldn't want a beach-side riot-proof solar-powered spherical surveillance bunker with a PA, a flat screen and biometric door locks? (The Hindu) 

Did I mention it's on the beach?

Liberia Unveils its New Passport in Washington, DC

Foreign Ministry Launches Diaspora Biometric ECOWAS Passport in the US (Heritage)
The official launching of the Liberia ECOWAS Biometric Passport has taken place in the United States capital, Washington DC for Liberians living in the Diaspora.

The colorful ceremony was witnessed by high-profile Liberian government officials including veteran Liberian diplomats, citizens from across the Diaspora and foreign friends.

The Economic Community Of West African States, ECOWAS (echo-wass) is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in "all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters ....."

Biometrics Event

Next Steps in Identity Technologies: Biometrics and Beyond

TechConnect West Virginia, in conjunction with Computer Sciences Corporation and IMTAS, will host a forum to discuss the status of the biometrics industry in West Virginia.

The forum will be held Wednesday, June 20 from 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center, in Fairmont, W.Va.

The event will bring together biometric companies, Federal agencies and university stakeholders to discuss the future of identity and biometrics technologies and their impact on the State's economy. Government agency officials will review the status of identity management initiatives in the public sector, particularly regarding the major expansion underway at the FBI Center in Harrison County. Other speakers will address the need for more private-sector development capitalizing on the talent/brainpower in the region.

Top officials with the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division and the Department of Defense Biometric Identity Management Agency will headline this upcoming Wednesday's Biometric Forum in Fairmont, entitled, "Next Steps in Identity Technologies: Biometrics and Beyond".

Speakers include:
  • David Cuthbertson, Assistant Director, FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division 
  • Col. Douglas Flohr, Deputy Director for Operations, Biometrics Identity Management Agency 
  • Dr. Bojan Cukic, Director of Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR)
  • Dr. Terry W. Fenger, Director of the Marshall University Forensic Science Center 
  • Dr. Marios Savvides, Director of the CyLab Biometrics Center

I'll be there.

Fore more on the proceedings, see this post or check out the Twitter hashtag #TechConnectWVa.

Facebook Acquires

Facebook completes acquisition (Biometric Update)

Awesome News – Facebook Acquires ( Blog)
They're understandably pleased.

Facebook Buys Facial Recognition Startup (Forbes)
Terms of the deal were not disclosed though various reports peg the price at $80 million to $100 million. The Israeli startup, which provides automated facial recognition of photos, also has a mobile photo app called Klik. has been providing its service to a number of third-party developers and the company said in its blog post that it will continue to support those developers after the acquisition.
Facebook’s Buy: Clues to Mobile Strategy (CNBC)
Facebook’s albatross — and its biggest opportunity — is its fast-growing mobile user base. Today’s acquisition sheds light on Facebook’s plan to ensure it doesn’t lose mobile users, and to turn those half-billion people into revenue and profits. specializes in facial recognition — its technology is used by 45,000 developers. And the company has a special expertise in mobile facial recognition: its Klik app tags people within photos before they’re even taken, while you’re holding your phone up. Google and Apple also offer facial recognition technology to tag people in photos, but is distinguished by its mobile focus, which could give Facebook users the advantage of quickly tagging friends while uploading on the go.
Of course, some people worry that adding better facial recognition technology is problematic given Facebook's massive data store and track record on privacy...

Facebook acquires facial recognition software company (Computer World)
Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst with pro-privacy software vendor Abine, indicated that the technology was particularly alarming in the hands of Facebook.

"There is nothing more concerning in the privacy sphere than the marriage of Facebook and facial recognition," she said in an email. "Every time you're tagged, Facebook learns more about your face and how it looks with or without glasses, in various lighting, with facial hair, etc. It's one of the few data sources that Facebook has yet to monetize, and the acquisition of suggests that making money off your face is on their to-do list."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Voice Recognition Software Industry Report

Voice Recognition Industry Market Research Report (Press Release via CEN)
Revenue for the Voice Recognition Software Developers industry is expected to increase an average of 2.3% annually to $1.1 billion over the five years to 2012. In 2012 alone, industry revenue is expected to grow 5.0% due to a 7.9% increase in private investment in computers and software. However, the industry has not experienced growth across the board.

Quick hits from Africa and Asia

Sierra Leone: Electoral Commission discovers 794 multiple registrations following biometric voter enrollment (Sierra Express Media)

Nigeria: Ports Checking Fraudulent Practices With Biometric Cards (This Day Live)

State of Madhya Pradesh, India: Medical colleges to use biometric machines (Times of India)

Nepal: Government revises national ID target (The Himalayan)

South Africa Seeks to Curb Social Security Leakage with Biometric ID

State tightens up on social grants (IOL News)
From the beginning of June, the agency started a full re-registration of all social grant beneficiaries “on a comprehensive biometric identification system”.

Social development director general Vusi Madonsela said the number of beneficiaries who might be receiving grants fraudulently was not known.

“We can only estimate, based on international standards... that there is an estimated 10 percent leakage.
It's notoriously difficult to estimate losses due to fraud because, in any individual transactions, if the bureaucracy knew it was being defrauded, it wouldn't engage in the transaction.

This is the first time I've seen a reference to the ten percent standard global estimate. That's as good a place as any to begin a return on investment analysis.

South Africa has been very active in strengthening its ID management infrastructure.

How to Inoculate Against Public Facial Recognition

How to Defend Yourself Against Facial Recognition Technology (PBS)
Facial recognition technology [FRT] is now just about everywhere we are...

Do we simply have to accept this as inevitable, or are there things we can do to protect ourselves and others against improper or repressive use of FRT?

Below are some tactical and technological defenses against FRT. Specifically, two layers of those involve: 1) when we are being watched, for example, at protests or in a public space, and 2) when we ourselves are taking and sharing images of others, especially online.
This well sourced-article contains a wealth of information and links having to do with in person and online public facial recognition.

Of course, CV Dazzle gets plenty of attention, as it should.

The app that automatically pixelates the faces in pictures users take with their mobile phones is really cool, too.

Then there's the software in "Friends" a threat to your privacy? This facial recognition app might help, which isn't mentioned in the PBS piece, but it would fit right in.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Facial Recognition Tech for In Home Advertising

It's not strictly facial recognition (more like face-finding mood detection) but it is related...

The Most Manipulative Use of Kinect Imaginable (Technology Review)
How exactly would it work? The idea is that Kinect’s motion and facial recognition technology could figure out whether you’re sad or happy, and serve up ads that jive with your mood. The patent application contains unusually colorful language about how exactly the Kinect (or other computing device) might infer mood.
“If the user on the videos or images from the webcams is dancing, the advertisement engine may assign a positive emotional state, such as, glad or happy, to the user...If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, e.g., Microsoft Kinect, is screaming, the advertisement engine may assign a negative emotional state, such as, upset, to the user. If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, e.g., Microsoft Kinect., is pacing back and forth, the advertisement engine may assign a negative emotional state, such as, worried, to the user.”

Face Rec System Can Sell Lipstick and Bust Terrorists

I guess, in a few cases, it could do both.

From Testing Lipstick to Spotting Terrorists (IEEE SPECTRUM)
Talking with Robin during his visit to Palo Alto, Calif., last week, he definitely seemed like a man tugged in two directions. While he was happy to talk about the successes of the technology in security tests, he kept bringing the conversation back to its applications in department stores, guiding women to selections of hair color and makeup.

Biometrics In Art: DNA Portraits

Image: dna11

The above art piece was created by dna11 using someone's DNA. They offer their customers the ability to turn their own DNA (and fingerprints) into personalized art. The DNA art and individualized fingerprint portraits are available in a range of color palettes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

UK Home Office to Use Facial Recognition in Citizenship Checks

Home Office spunks another £12.8m on face recog tech (The Register)
The new multi-million pound face scanners would be used to determine an applicant's right to a British passport: and must be able to compare the biometric data extracted from the scans of the faces of punters as well as their related biographical data against huge datasets.

The new facial recog tech will need to work within the existing framework of the Border Agency's tech systems - systems demonstrated recently to be fragile – and will operate with the same biometric and biographical data that is currently used.

Around 10 Taiwanese Passports Forged Annually

Foreign ministry calls attention to forged Taiwanese passports (Taiwan News)
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew attention Thursday to recent cases of foreign nationals attempting to enter Europe on forged Taiwanese passports. Most of the cases involved authentic Taiwanese biometric passports that had either the photograph or the chip containing personal information replaced, said James Lee, director-general of the ministry's Department of European Affairs.
In the current state of affairs of biometric passports, everything is riding on the integrity of the chip.

ATM's to go Cardless as Society goes Cashless?

Frost & Sullivan predict more secure and more convenient future of ATM Cash Withdrawals (Security Park)
“It is difficult to foresee how common cardless ATM services are going to look like in the future, especially with some initiatives that aim to reduce the usage of cash, like contactless payments and digital money. However, I do believe that cardless ATM services are going to find a space within specific customer segments, urged by either the necessity or the convenience of usage,” concludes Mr. Fernandez.
As for the title of this post "ATM's to go Cardless as Society goes Cashless?," I'm not convinced of either proposition, but the blurb at Security Park does get one thinking.

I'm betting ATM cards, or other tokens, will be around for a while. Cash will be around for a lot longer than tokens.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jobs in Biometrics

A reader has made me aware of job listing aggreagator

Here's a link to their Biometrics job listings for the United States.

There's also a ton of opportunity in India.

Brazil, too.

TWIC: Licensed Hazmat Truckers Can Skip a Background Check, Save Money

Proposed TWIC changes could ease burden on truckers (Land Line)
Currently, truckers seeking the credential are forced to make multiple trips to enrollment centers, many without truck parking and often hundreds of miles from drivers who do not live in metro centers.

The SMART Port Security Act, HR4251, passed out of the committee late last week. The bill, if passed into law, would mandate a single trip to enrollment locations for TWIC applicants.
Also, according to the article, eliminating a duplicate hazardous materials background check for truckers that already have hazmat licenses will save applicants either $27.25 or $22.25. Of course, the costs to drivers aren't just measurable in dollars. In addition to the financial outlay, the TWIC process can be a hassle.

That would seem to validate my Friday post, Why is the TWIC So Expensive?, which assigned the lion's share of the cost of a TWIC card to the multiple layers of background checks and bureaucratic overhead, rather than biometrics.

Korea & US Link Trusted Traveler Services

Good News For Travelers: Less Time Spent in U.S. Airports (Wall Street Journal - Asia)
Korean travelers heading to U.S. can sit back and relax knowing they now can spend less time waiting to go through immigration after a long-haul flight in a cramped seat.

On Tuesday, South Korea became the third nation after the Netherlands and Canada—and the first in Asia—to sign a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. that allows low-risk, pre-registered visitors to bypass the face-to-face checkpoints and use instead automated immigration kiosks with biometric identification, available at 25 international U.S. airports.
Just a note, since I've seen the error repeated elsewhere: Mexican nationals are also eligible to use the Global Entry kiosks as well as to avail themselves of the SENTRI program.

Also, according to this article, six countries have thus far joined the program - Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Korea-US Travel Agreement

US and Korea to announce reciprocal trusted traveler agreement
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Republic of Korea Minster of Justice Jae-Jin Kwon will jointly announce a reciprocal agreement for each nation’s trusted traveler programs – the U.S. Global Entry and Korea Smart Entry Service – Tuesday, June 12 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

h/t @m2sys

More Face Rec Tech for Entertainment

Keio University democratizes facial recognition technology for Avatars everywhere (Engadget)
It's sort of like body motion capture without sticking those little balls everywhere.

More on Kenya Election Budget Requests

Following up on yesterday's post: How much should an election cost?

IEBC Scratching Head Over Sh17 Billion Poll Budget (All Africa)
Nairobi, Kenya — The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is now seeking to borrow resources from countries within the East African Community (EAC) region in a bid to reduce its budget and work within the Sh17.5 billion limit allocated by the Treasury.

Chairman Isaack Hassan said on Monday that the commission will be looking to acquire biometric voter registration equipment and technological know how from its East African counterparts.

He added that negotiations with the Treasury to revise the budget upwards were still ongoing as the commission seeks to reduce its initial budget of Sh40 billion cut back on other costs.
Source: CIA World Factbook - Kenya
Like we said yesterday, Sh40 billion seems like a lot, but a lot of human resources, communications, training, etc. goes into elections. A good technology infrastructure for biometric enrollment and biometric verification bought new and custom designed for Kenya, would not come anywhere close to accounting for the gap between the IEBC budget request and the funds allocated by the Treasury of Kenya.

What if? Online Real-Time Searchable Sensor Data

Each of these articles is extremely interesting and when they're read together, they become even more so.

The first one was published in the Washington Post a week or so ago and concentrates on industrial control systems (probably because Stuxnet has been in the news a lot lately). The second article below talks about the development of a search engine that could combine social networking with data collected by sensors that are hooked up to the internet.

Cyber search engine Shodan exposes industrial control systems to new risks (Washington Post)
It began as a hobby for a ­teenage computer programmer named John Matherly, who wondered how much he could learn about devices linked to the Internet.

After tinkering with code for nearly a decade, Matherly eventually developed a way to map and capture the specifications of everything from desktop computers to network printers to Web servers.

He called his fledgling search engine Shodan, and in late 2009 he began asking friends to try it out. He had no inkling it was about to alter the balance of security in cyberspace.

“I just thought it was cool,” said Matherly, now 28.
Smart City Search Engine Uses Sensors (Tech Week Europe)
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are helping build a search engine that will combine data from social networks with real-time sensor information such as recognition of faces in crowds to help users locate individual people or events.

The European-funded project, called Search engine for MultimediA Environment geneRated contenT (SMART), takes advantage of the already widespread presence of sensors such as CCTV cameras and microphone arrays, according to Dr. Iadh Ounis of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science.
The combination of what these two efforts envision — a crawler that finds online devices, an engine that makes them searchable, datamining of social media and real-time access to sensor data — would really be something.

But what would it take for someone sitting at a computer terminal to find and commandeer a surveillance camera, grab an image of my face, run it through a facial recognition search of social media platforms and find out something as simple as my name?

For now, it would be pretty difficult. Without significant help from disparate entities, the challenges associated with such a query are extremely daunting and that will probably be true for the foreseeable future.

A simple facial recognition search of all the photos on (for example) Facebook's servers would be pretty close to useless. The 'book simply has far too many faces. Based upon the (low) image quality from surveillance cameras and the (high) number of Facebook photos, there would be far too many false positives. I'll make an educated guess that the reason Facebook gets the facial recognition results that it does is that it uses its (highly proprietary) knowledge of its users to limit the face rec search only to people that Facebook already believes have a significant likelihood of actually knowing each other. So, without Facebook's help, that random someone sitting at their computer would have a pretty difficult challenge even if their target is a heavy user of social media.

Other challenges apply. Finding a device online is not the same as controlling it. Controlling some functions of a device such as a surveillance camera doesn't necessarily imply that all functions are available to the user. Speed and storage are also issues.

Nevertheless, some challenges, such as the co-operation of service providers, can already be overcome by governments. Others will become easier to overcome as technological progress is made.

What is possible? That's an interesting question. What does it cost? That may be far more important. Stuxnet proved that some amazing things are possible. As for pulling a mini-Stuxnet to see if I'm over-sharing on the social webs, theoretical possibility may not be the most important consideration. A private detective is still the way to go.

But if Moore's law holds and techy things continue get cheaper, better and faster, who knows?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Germany will wait on Irish investigation of Facebook Facial Recognition

German Regulator Suspends Facebook Facial-Recognition Probe (Bloomberg)
A German privacy regulator suspended its probe of Facebook Inc. (FB)’s facial-recognition features pending an Irish audit of how the social-media company handles personal data.

Hamburg’s data-protection authority said it will wait for Facebook to negotiate with Ireland’s privacy regulator before deciding whether Facebook complies with rules for using biometric data in an application that suggests people to tag in photos on the social-networking site.

How much should an election cost?

Kenya: Lavish Spending in Poll Budget (All Africa)
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission budget for the next general elections proposes spending at least Sh3,000 ($35.25) on each of the estimated 18 million voters who will participate in the next election.

This is just one of the expenses listed in the Sh35 billion budget that the IEBC is asking taxpayers to finance. If the proposed budget is granted, it would make the next elections the most expensive ever held in any stable democracy in the world. Post conflict election budget benchmark is pegged at between $10 and $30 (Sh850 and Sh2,550) per person. India, considered one of the world's largest democracies spent $1 (Sh85) on each of its 600 million voters.

Kenya's next general election would therefore be the most expensive poll exercise ever conducted on earth. The IEBC is asking for another Sh35 billion in addition to the Sh7.5 bn already allocated making a grand total of Sh42.5 billion.
A lot goes into an election: poll worker training, communication with the electorate, printing, transportation, registration, etc. What an election costs will depend upon how much work from the past can be reused for in the present.

Still, $35.25 per voter does seem pretty expensive. Granted, it's not the $40 per voter floated by Zimbabwe in 2011.

Three approaches to trusted traveler programs...

Clear, Global Entry and PreCheck are three distinct trusted traveler programs. Clear is a commercial effort. Global Entry is a government initiative. PreCheck is administered through the airlines.

It's good to see the air transportation industry and government regulators trying several things at once in the hope that, as one traveler put it, it "makes travelling bearable again."

Security checks eased for some air travellers in U.S. airports (Calgary Herald)
The pre-screening programs represent an effort to maintain security against terror attacks while limiting headaches for air travelers. The TSA, which faces constant scrutiny for the invasiveness of passenger screenings, can also be criticized for security lapses.

"On one hand, Congress bashes them for making it miserable for people who fly. But no one in Congress wants to be soft on security," Bender said.

Airport security is anything but a science, experts say.
There's more on each of the programs at the link.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why is the TWIC So Expensive?

TWIC Relief Proposal Unanimously Approved by Homeland Security Committee (TMCnet)
Over the past five years, roughly 2.1 million longshoremen, truckers, merchant mariners, and rail and vessel crew members have undergone extensive background checks and paid a $132.50 fee to obtain these cards. Unless Congress or the Administration acts, starting this October, workers would be required to go through the time and expense of renewing their TWICs. Compelling hardworking Americans to undertake the expense and hassle of renewing their cards is not justifiable given that the basic requirements for biometric readers to match these cards with the cardholders have not been issue by the Department of Homeland Security.
Five years on, the earliest Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs) will be expiring soon and renewing them isn't cheap.

The fee for a renewal TWIC (valid for 5 years) is the same amount as the initial enrollment fee, which is currently 129.75* since another security threat assessment will be performed and a credential issued those individuals who successfully undergo this assessment. Individuals also have the option to enroll with a comparable credential and pay a reduced fee. * Effective March 19, 2012, the enrollment cost was reduced from $132.50 to $129.75 due to a FBI fee decrease.
Transportation workers are peeved that they pay for an ID with all sorts of biometric technology bells and whistles while the ID management systems that they use daily don't take advantage of the card's capabilities.

But the TWIC is expensive for reasons other than biometric enrollment. The TWIC applicant must provide: biographic information, identity documents, biometric information (fingerprints), a digital photograph and pay the fee. A TSA employee has to go through all this stuff.

Then, the TSA conducts a security threat assessment on the TWIC applicant sending pertinent parts of the enrollment record to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) so that appropriate terrorist threat, criminal history, and immigration checks can be performed.

This, to say the least, is not a cheap process and my guess is that the labor costs, not technology cost, of issuing a TWIC accounts for a huge proportion of the total. The opportunity cost inflicted on the applicant also seems pretty high (i.e. getting a TWIC is a major annoyance).

So then, what of the Homeland Security Committee desire to remove the TWIC renewal requirement? I guess that depends upon why it was originally determined that the TWIC should be renewed every five years.

According to the TSA: "The renewal process consists of the same steps as the original enrollment process (optional pre-enrollment, in-person enrollment, and card activation.) These steps are required since a security threat assessment is required on all applicants, confirming they still meet eligibility requirements" (emph. mine).

If the cards are expensive because the processing costs are high and background checks are expensive. Are the costs unacceptably high? Is $26 per year too expensive? How much does it cost other entities (FBI, military) to keep ID's current? Who should pay: the worker, their employer, the government, or some combination of the three?

National Biometric ID Management in Pakistan


Pakistan's experience with identity management (BBC)
Pakistan's experience with identity management dates back to 1973, when the eastern part of the country had just seceded and questions were being raised over who was a Pakistani and who was not.

So a registration act was introduced in the parliament to create an authority that would register Pakistani citizens and issue them with a photo ID.

In 2001, this authority was merged with a national database organisation to create Nadra, with the task of computerising all citizen data.

In 2007, Nadra introduced what is known as the multi-biometric system, consisting of finger identification and facial identification data that was to be included in the citizen's computer profile.

"By now, Nadra has issued 91 million computer generated cards, which is 96% of the entire adult population," says Nadra deputy chairman Tariq Malik.

"This is one of the world's largest national databases."
This is only a taste of the article which is full of interesting information.

Indian Cabinet to UID, NPR "Play Nice"

Govt asks UIDAI to take Registrar General of India (RGI) data (The Statesman)
Accepting the demand of the Union home minister, Mr P Chidambaram, the government today directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to consider the biometric data collected by the Registrar General of India (RGI) while issuing the unique ID number.

The decision to direct the UIDAI to accept the National Population Register (NPR) data was taken at today’s meeting of the Union Cabinet. Mr Chidambaram had taken up the issue with the Prime Minister last week and complained that the UIDAI chief, Mr Nandan Nilekani, was not accepting the NPR data for de-duplication and generation of Aadhaar number.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ghana Wrapping Up Biometric Voter Enrollment

Mop Up Biometric Registration In Eight Regions (Daily Graphic)
He explained that the mop up had become necessary at some of the areas because during the registration, either the kit broke down or there were long periods of shortage of materials, denying a lot of people the chance to register .

He urged qualified applicants in the affected centres who had not yet registered to take note and register, but was quick to caution those who had already registered as voters to avoid registering again, since that would amount to double registration.

Mr Owusu-Parry explained that any such double registration would be detected.
The mop-up will take place this weekend in eight of Ghana's ten regions.

Super-tiny USB Fingerprint reader

World’s Smallest Fingerprint Reader Borders On Adorable (Gizmodo)
Sold by AuthenTec here.

This looks like it might be the same hardware that has been rumored to be a candidate for deployment in the next iPhone.

ID Rivalry Reignites in India

In the Dec. 6, 2011 post, India: How Much Fraud is Acceptable in NPR, UID, we touched on the philosophical differences between NPR and UID and the men behind the two efforts.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram's biggest point has always been that his organization's database, the National Population Register (NPR), is for Indian citizens only with a view toward issuing a citizenship card. His concern is that loose enrollment standards will lead to issuing the citizenship card to non-citizens and doing that exposes India to intolerable security risks.

The UIDAI, led by Nandan Nilekani is more concerned with providing everyone in India with a legitimate identity. The implicit assumption is that in a situation where a significant portion of the population will be unable to prove with scientific precision who they are (because they don't have ID), you're better off getting everyone an ID and then trying to sort things out later.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set the conditions for both efforts to proceed in parallel, sharing tasks and infrastructure (in areas such as de-duplication) when possible, and otherwise staying out of each other's way.

Though he never really seemed to accept the legitimacy of the pro-UID point of view Chidambaram took his medicine on January 24, 2012, in essence proclaiming "Rivalry! What rivalry?" See: UID: Home Ministry Climb-down.

Three days later the truce was sealed. UID would enroll 600 million people in 16 of India's 28 states, and the NPR would issue 600 million credentials elsewhere. See Compromise reached on Biometric ID in India (January 27) which predicted that the rivalry would soon heat up again.

...which brings us to today:
Chidambaram, Nilekani spar over collection of biometric data (Times of India)
Sources said the cabinet again discussed the issue on Thursday after Chidambaram recently wrote to the Prime Minister complaining that the NPR project had "come to a standstill" because of the UID scheme.

"The collection of photographs and biometrics has been facing hurdles at every step on account approach of the UIDAI, which, it seems, has failed to appreciate the core purpose of the National Population Register," Chidambaram said in his letter.

He also slammed the UIDAI for allegedly not following the cabinet's orders.

"Despite clear orders from the cabinet, the UIDAI is objecting to the conduct of NPR camps in certain states and is also refusing to accept the biometric data of NPR for de-duplication and generation of Aadhaar number," he said.
Versions of this article are all over the news today. I chose this one from the Times of India for the quality of the discussion in the comment section.

Of course, all this is highly political. But as we say around here all the time: Biometrics is about people. That applies across the board. It applies to the relationship between the individual and the ID management system, and it applies to the political and managerial people who implement and operate ID management systems.

Politics will always play a part in national biometric deployments and they should. What's interesting in this case is that the political battle isn't between pro- and anti-biometrics forces. It's between two giant biometric deployments and, yes, the people who run them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

UID: Radical Ideas & Real Challenges

Why India's identity scheme is groundbreaking (BBC)
With a unique identity, previously anonymous poor Indians can have access to services such as bank accounts, mobile connections and driving licences.

That is already something, for a country which has a population of 1.2 billion but only 50 million passport-holders and 200 million with driving licenses.

Indians design and build some of the world's most sophisticated software and technologies for multinational corporations.

Now, some of this hi-tech savvy promise to transport India's neglected millions from the technological dark ages, propelling them from complete obscurity to an online identity.
This highly recommended article pulls together a lot of the themes we discuss here.
Mobile Hardware: Future ultrabooks will be equipped with voice recognition, face tracking and touch features, which will secure the laptops and make them easier to use...

US & Canada: Border security blueprint “the next generation of integrated cross-border law enforcement”

Fiji: Electronic voting - an overview of the biometric voter system being implemented in Fiji.

Gambia: Daily Observer: GID: 302,634 Biometric ID Cards issued so far.

Nigeria: Labour and Productivity Minister inaugurates a 10-man panel to resolve outstanding issues on the biometric verification of employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

King County, Washington: AFIS Costs and Benefiets

Voters could decide $118.9 million county levy for fingerprint services (Issaquah Press)
King County voters could decide on a $118.9 million property tax levy to continue funding criminal fingerprint identification services for local law enforcement agencies.

The proposal is to keep the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home. Voters approved the initial AFIS levy in 1986, and overwhelmingly renewed the levy since then, most recently in 2006. The current levy expires in December.

“As a regional crime-fighting tool, AFIS is our ‘CSI: King County,’ bringing new technology to the job of cracking cases and catching criminals,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.
Read the whole thing. There are numbers to indicate that the system is getting cheaper to administer over time. There are other indicators that even as the system is costing less, its capabilities are expanding.

King County contains Seattle (map here).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Unlock Your Phone With Voice Biometrics

Nuance’s Dragon ID lets you unlock your phone by voice (GigaOM)
While typical phone unlocking programs require tapping in a short code or tracing a pattern on screen, Nuance’s technology uses two layers of security: biometrics, which recognizes your unique “voice imprint,” and a password or pass phrase – which in this case is spoken not typed, said Kenneth Harper, Senior Product Manager, Nuance. Nuance has been selling the technology for years to businesses and governments for use in their own biometric security systems – with 20 million voice prints on file – but this is the first time it’s offering up its technology to consumer phones and tablets.
Pretty cool.

Canada Moving Toward Biometric Visitor Visas

Appeal mechanism needed for biometric visa plan due to imperfect system: report (Winnipeg Free Press)
Saying no biometrics system is perfect, an internal report urges the federal government to create an avenue of appeal for visa applicants who are rejected because of a false fingerprint match. The Conservative government is moving toward using biometrics — such as fingerprints, iris scans and other unique identifiers — to vet all foreigners entering the country.

As a first step, it soon plans to require applicants for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit to submit 10 electronic fingerprints and a photo before they arrive in Canada. The prints will be searched against RCMP databanks. Upon arrival the Canada Border Services Agency will use the data to verify that the visa holder is the same person as the applicant.
The big news is that Canada is going biometric with its travel visas.

The author's discussion of appeals and privacy, however, seems a bit overwrought.

Any ID management system, whether it has to do with biometrics or not, must include provisions for sussing out mistakes (appeals) and maintaining the security (privacy) of information.

Biometric systems aren't robots about to take over the Canada Border Services Agency, they're just another tool for them to use and adding a fingerprint to the visa system will, in all likelihood, reduce the number of mistaken identifications and streamline the existing appeals process.

The article continues...
It [the report] says that in addition to false matches, privacy concerns associated with the use of biometric technologies can also include unauthorized use of the information, discrimination through profiling or surveillance, and retention of the data beyond the length of time needed.

To preserve the privacy rights of applicants, the report also recommends:
— those applying for visas be told what information will be collected and how it will be used;
— there be standards as to how long the fingerprints, photos and biographical details are kept and when they should be destroyed;
— memoranda between Citizenship and Immigration and the RCMP and border services agency be reviewed to determine what additional provisions for privacy and security may be needed.
It's not entirely clear that "transparency" rather than "privacy" isn't the proper prism for examining the issues surrounding the information provided by visa applicants.

It's really nice of Canada to be considerate of the sensitivities of visa applicants, to deal with them in a transparent manner, and take thorough decisions regarding data retention, but if someone wants to visit a country that requires them to procure a visa, privacy (ed. between the applicant and the visa issuing country) doesn't really enter into it. They either supply the required information or they don't and those issues come up with or without biometrics.

Biometric Chat on Voice Biometrics June 14

UPDATE June 14, 2012: @m2sys has put a transcript of today's biometric chat up at Storify

When: June 14, 2012

11:00 am EDT, 8:00 am PDT, 16:00 pm BST, 17:00 pm (CEST), 23:00 pm (SGT), 0:00 (JST)

Where: (or Twitter hashtag #biometricchat)

What: Tweet chat on voice biometrics.

Topics: The science behind voice biometric technology, technical challenges, non-telephone-based voice applications, market applications, and customer impact.

More information at the M2SYS blog.

I always enjoy these.

Tune in, dial up, surf over (or do whatever it is you do to navigate the interwebs) and join in the conversation.

More on Biometrics in Hotels

John has a great post about biometrics in hotels at the M2SYS blog. It looks like fingerprint room access is finally becoming a reality.

Use of Biometrics for Hotel Room Access Portends Strong Potential for Market (M2SYS Blog)
Seems that CADD Emirates out of the United Arab Emirates has implemented a hotel patron biometrics identification system that is replacing electronic key cards. The idea is to ditch the infamous electronic swipe cards that we all know so well in place of a biometric fingerprinting system that scans hotel patrons and allows them access to their rooms by placing their finger on a device, presumably attached to the hotel room door (the article didn’t go into a lot of details about the infrastructure of the deployment). The hotel hopes that , “the system will be able to remember guest preferences from hotel-to-hotel in locations across the globe, with information saved against their fingerprints.”
Read the whole thing.

Nepal Preparing for Biometric National ID Card

They have a cool flag, too.

Source: CIA World Factbook - Nepal

The report recommends polycarbonated cards for the NID and suggests improving the quality of finger prints that the Election Commission has collected, noting that the prints are of low quality and do not meet the standard for biometric ID cards. An NID card is estimated to cost six to eight dollars.

“After the detailed project report, the consultant is preparing bid documents for the project,” Dahal said.

He anticipated that this process will take a long time to complete.

Monday, June 4, 2012

One-Time-Only ID Technologies

Palm vein biometrics for access to mobile phone recharging stations at festivals (Pocket Lint)
New this year is a palm vein reader that will identify you using the pattern of blood vessels just under your skin, saving customers that use the recharging station the hassle of wearing wristbands and showing proof of identity. According to Vodafone, it will even work if your hands are caked in festival mud.
Think of all the ways business keep track of their customers for short periods of time by issuing some sort of token: a bracelet, a hand stamp, a slip of paper with a number on it, or asking for ID for proof of age when they don't really care who you are, etc.

For many of these cases, the business is only interested a relationship between two things, one of which is a person. In this example, the relationship is between a person and the mobile phone they leave recharging while they rush back to the Garden Stage to hear Suzanne Vega sing Tom's Diner. But dry cleaners, coat checks, and valets all do something similar.

In other cases, the business is interested in who can go where or do what so they can administer VIP areas, determine who can use the subway, consume alcohol or see an R rated movie.

Many types of business have processes in place that are at least in part about identity management. It'll be interesting to see if, when and how some of them look to biometrics to make things easier.

UK: Biometrics in Schools - Times have changed

Students will use fingerprint technology to pay for school dinners (This is Somerset)
When students buy food or drink they will be identified by a biometric fingerprint.

A print of the index finger is taken and it is then translated to an alpha numeric number and the image is then discarded. The number generated will be used to charge accounts.

The fingerprint captured is different to system used by the police and instead the system identifies certain points on the finger and turns them into encrypted numbers.

When students make a purchase they simply place their finger on a scanner at the till and the server will show the students name, class and current balance. It is hoped the new high tech system will also reduce the amount of time students spend queuing for their lunch.
It wasn't too long ago when articles on this subject, especially in the UK, followed a very different template.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Well, they're the ones with money... Over-55s pick passwords twice as secure as teenagers' (New Scientist)

UID Back On, Will Finish Enrolments by March 2014

UIDAI will finish all enrolments by March 2014, says deputy director general Anil Khachi (Economic Times)
Once more unto the breach. Nandan Nilekani's Unique Identification Authority of India has told its regional offices to resume Aadhaar enrolments.

It had temporarily ceased all enrolments in January to address safety-related concerns which had been voiced by, among others, the home ministry. Close to five months down the line, Anil Khachi, a deputy director general with the UIDAI who looks after enrolments told ET that the new system is now ready for rollout. And that UIDAI will finish all enrolments by March 2014.
There's a lot of good updated information at the link.

In other UID news...
Pune Municipal Corporation waits for machines to start 2nd phase of Aadhar (Times of India)
The second phase of Aadhaar enrolment in Chandigarh region was launched (Daily Pioneer)

Nigeria Continues to Develop its ID Infrastructure.

A State that desires to deliver the benefits to society that all modern people have come to require of it*, will find things vastly simpler with an effective ID infrastructure. Biometrics are a cheap and effective way of building that infrastructure and are a true leap-frogging technology.

Here's another indication that Nigeria is taking advantage of biometrics as to build a modern identity infrastructure. This article is about the banking and finance sector, an important piece of the development puzzle to be sure.

Bank Customers to Face Biometric Verification (This Day)
According to the CBN, the activities and processes of customers’ due diligence that financial institutions must perform to identify their customers, among others, remain key to the development of the financial system.

It also regretted that: “Verification of customers’ identity has been very difficult in Nigeria because the identity environment is fraught with adverse and disparate types of identity systems, all running in silos and having no link, integration or standardisation nor a centralised identity database for verifying the identity of bank customers.

“The absence of a central standardised identity database, and the relevant infrastructure to support access to this database, for the verification and authentication of identity, have had a constraining effect on the country’s growth and development, effective credit administration, effective administration of most government services and collation of accurate data and statistics that could be leveraged on to drive effective planning, both in the public and private sectors.”
The extremely frank and technical discussion at the end of the article — what it all means, why Nigeria is where it is, the costs of the status quo, and the opportunities do be derived from a more effective ID management environment — is really good stuff. You don't see it laid out like that too often in the mainstream press.

*National defense, basic education, vaccination programs, enforceable private contracts, well regulated public utilities, etc. Basically, it's just really hard for the government to do anything well if it doesn't know who anybody (perhaps everybody?) is.

Biometrics Making Life Easier for Malaysia & Singaporeans

It's been a while singe we checked in on the Malaysia-Singapore border biometrics deployment(s), but it looks like things are going well.

No more disembarkation cards for Singapore to Johor travellers (The Star)
Effective today, those entering the state from Singapore will no longer have to fill up the Immigration disembarkation cards or white cards.

This will ease the hassle faced by thousands of foreigners, especially Singa­poreans.

Thousands of Singaporeans and people of other nationalities enter the state daily.
In the early stages of implementation, Malaysia's border initiatives were not met with universal acclaim. Now, it seems that having the new technology in place has allowed for far more efficient border management that is both more rigorous and less consuming of time and paper than the system that used to be in place.

The increased efficiency should also serve to increase economic activity in the area which will have benefits of its own.

Congratulations to Malaysia and to the Singaporeans that make frequent visits. My condolences to whomever prints the immigration disembarkation cards.

This map and photo gives a flavor of the relevant geography. The red dot on the Singapore map is the approximate location of the Johor–Singapore Causeway pictured at right below.

Malaysia Map & Singapore Map Source: CIA The World Factbook.
Johor–Singapore Causeway Source: Wikipedia
(Click Image to Enlarge)

Four Seventh Grade Girls Bring Facial Recognition to the People

This is a very cool story involving market research, technology, training and integration. Congratulations to the Rocky Run Seventh-grade eCybermission team.

Rocky Run Girl Power: Seventh-grade eCybermission team is second in Virginia (The Connection)
“Our project was about biometrics and how people use passwords and user ID every day to access various online resources,” said Rashel. Aisha explained that biometrics is comprised of the individual characteristics used to identify a person.

“We did a survey at the Chantilly Library and discovered that 76 percent of the people didn’t know what biometrics was — and the 4 percent who did didn’t consider using it.”
They decided to share their solution with the community. “So we set up an experiment in the library, having people try it out,” said Nayana. “Then we gave them a follow-up survey on biometrics to get their feedback,” said Aisha.

“Over 70 percent said they liked the facial-recognition software and thought it was more efficient and secure than the traditional method of logging on,” said Rashel. It’s important, said Aisha, because “This is one of the many things that people forget to keep secure.”
Read the whole thing.