Iris tech 'could not have averted 9/11

ABU DHABI - Incidents like 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington and the London bombings couldn't have been averted even if latest state-of-the-art technology was deployed by these most advanced cities, Professor John Daugman, father of a technology that helped nab thousands of law-breakers around the world told Khaleej Times.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Wed 7 Sep 2005, 11:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:12 PM

"I don't see the possibility of any such advanced technology helping in averting the attacks. These technologies can help at a certain stage of the fight against terror but not before they take place," Prof Daugman, founder of iris recognition technology said, responding to a question on whether his technology could have helped prevent the attacks.

On the reason why Prof Daugman thinks his technology wouldn't work out in such situations, he said the perpetrators of such attacks were not included in the database of immigration or other authorities concerned, so matching their "IrisCode" with the records available would not be possible.

"Terrorists in both events committed their acts from within those cities. And after all, nobody knew they were terrorists before the attacks. So there is no way our technology could have helped," he said.

Prof Daugman's technology has helped in the arrest of 47,000 deported foreigners who attempted to re-enter the UAE though they were banned by immigration authorities.

His iris recognition application, an automatic and rapid method to determine personal identity involves mathematical analysis of random patterns that are visible in the iris of a person's eye from some distance. His algorithm for this process are the basis for all currently deployed iris recognition systems and have been licensed internationally, particularly in airports where governments allow the process to substitute for a passport.

Several airports worldwide have installed these algorithms for passenger screening and immigration control in lieu of passport presentation.

These include 10 UK airport terminals in 2005 where it is used to expedite immigration clearance for passengers arrivals, eight Canadian airports in 2005 to expedite processing and check-in at Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and for departing passengers at Houston, Washington Reagan, Tokyo, Milan and expedited security clearance and access to New York JFK, Albany NY, Frankfurt, tarmac

and other restricted areas at Amsterdam Schiphol. In UAE, it is used for "WatchList" screening for all arriving passengers at seven airports.

On whether the technology could be useful in maintaining security in major cities through fitting outdoor security cameras, Prof Daugman said even for this purpose, this technology would not work out as the iris recognition application is intended for indoor use in view of the high sensitivity of the system.

Prof Daugman is on a visit to the UAE to present the outcome of a study on the UAE's iris recognition experiment to Lt-Gen Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior.

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