Huge $250 million biometric identity project planned in region
A Middle Eastern state is planning the world’s biggest biometric-based identity program for its entire civilian population. According to industry insiders, the move represents the single largest roll-out yet of a Civilian Authentication and Fingerprint Identity System (CAFIS) anywhere in the world.
With total contracts worth around $250 million expected to be awarded to winning companies, the program dwarfs those previously announced by both the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The scale of the CAFIS project planned by the Middle Eastern state is vast and will involve the setting up of almost 2,000 centers.
Biometric technology is about identifying people based on their physical characteristics using information technology. Using information stored in databases or on chips in smart cards, biometric identification can involve the contours of a hand or finger, fingerprints or the pattern of an iris. Even variable characteristics can be used such as voice, the way a person writes a signature, or the rhythm when typing on a keyboard.
Since October 2002, in the world’s first such system, well over 100,000 deportees from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have had their irises scanned and put into a database to prevent their re-entry. The authorities have already reported dozens have been caught trying to beat the system by attempting to re-enter with new papers.
Oman has announced the introduction of a civilian identity registration system based on a smart card with stored biometric information in the form of a thumbprint. Registration starts at the beginning of next year at 12 centers in the country.
Iris recognition was also piloted in Saudi Arabia as a method of keeping track of the millions making the Haj each year. Throughout the region, companies in the telecommunication, technology, aviation, healthcare and petrochemical industries have introduced security systems which incorporate biometric elements.
It is against this background that the Middle East Biometrics Forum will take place between June 22-24 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dubai. Top industry players from throughout the world will be discussing and demonstrating the latest in biometric technology and its increasing civilian applications at the Forum.
Organised by the Institute for International Research, the forum will investigate the growing market for biometric technology in the region as well as key, new applications in banking, e-commerce, healthcare, digital rights management, point of sale, as well as law enforcement, border and building security. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)