ME airports keen on using biometric tech

DUBAI — Most countries in the Middle East region have been keen on fully adopting the use of biometric technology in ensuring airport and ground security, says an industry specialist.

By Criselda E. Diala

Published: Tue 17 Apr 2007, 8:57 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:42 AM

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Ronald Hack, Principal Consultant-Business Development e-Identity and Biometric Solutions of LogicaCMG, said that their company has been in coordination with government agencies in the region following inquiries about the technology.

“It (biometrics) is now developing in the region. Several countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, already have national identification cards with microchip that carries relevant information about the cardholder. Some countries are also developing programmes for e-Passports,” he said.

e-Passports or Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs) will be required in all the 188 contracting countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) by April 10, 2010. Currently around 110 countries, including the United States, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and those in the European Union, are issuing MRTDs.

“Within the next few years, it is likely that citizens of Middle East countries will also be issued e-Passports,” Hack said.

Through biometrics, a person’s identification can be easily established using his/her own physiological or behavioral characteristics like facial feature, iris (through eye scan), or fingerprint.

Hack explained that biometrics became more popular following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) incident. “The technology was used originally by some European airports in the e-Gate system for ther Loyalty Programme, so as to encourage frequent travellers to use their airport. But following 9/11, it had been seen as a means of promoting security apart from convenient travelling,” he said.

LocalCMG, which has its base in the Middle East and Europe, recently launched in Dubai its multi-modal biometrics technology called e-Identity BioFUSE which is capable of detecting a particular face in a crowd of more than 1,000 people using gender, facial, iris, and fingerprint information.

This technology, said Hack, has been installed in major airports worldwide and helped improve airport security since it allows police authorities to identify a suspect on their blacklist.

“All those biometric information will be stored in a database and used to find the wanted person,” he said.

Hack also assured that the technology is sophisticated enough to distinguish the physiological differences between identical twins since eye and fingerprint are unique identity marks.

He, however, said that while the biometric solutions have been developed to be of the highest quality, 100 per cent accuracy can only be guaranteed by adhering to a high standard of application.

“There will always be the human factor. As solution provider, we can develop the technology but the procedures on how to maximise the use of that technology can only be decided upon by the customer,” he said.

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