Biometrics identification technology is increasingly seen as a secure and reliable way to verify a person’s identity, both in the government and commercial sectors. As organizations become more security-conscious, biometric-based solutions are set to grow in terms of usage and importance.
Given the new global security environment, governments and airports around the world are trying to use those elements of identity to increase security and safety for travelers and citizens.
Singapore, connected to mainland Malaysia by a causeway and a bridge, one of which, the causeway, is among the world’s busiest border crossings. Each day, over two hundred thousand people cross the causeway in and out of the country. Singapore is also well known as one of Asia’s most prosperous financial centers and trading ports, and like most modern cities today, a potential target for terrorism.
As a country’s borders are its first line of defense against external security threats, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore, the ICA, is constantly tightening the security at Singapore’s checkpoints. It engaged NEC for a state-of-the-art homeland security solution that facilitates international travel without compromising on security.
The newly installed eIACS – Enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System - is a futuristic technology that allows Singapore citizens to make use of their machine-readable passports for automated clearance, without having to apply for an additional smart card. The launch of eIACS is a breakthrough for immigration authorities since most countries are still using card-based systems.
The new system means that if a passport number or thumbprint does not match at the security gates, the security services can be automatically alerted.
Relying on NEC’s 30-year history in breakthrough biometric identification technology, the system meets the ICA’s requirement of speed and accuracy.
The system has won ICA the following awards in 2006:
- National Infocomms Awards 2006 – Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Public Sector)
- TEC Public Service Innovation Award 2006 (Gold Award)
As a country under the USA’s Visa Waiver Program, Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to issue biometric passports (also known as e-passports). NEC was also the leader of the appointed consortium which helped Singapore implement their biometric passport (BioPass) project.
Biometric passports will restrict the space for terrorist movements by tightening passport controls and border surveillance. When used at automated immigration lanes, these passports are likely to become the future global standard for immigration systems, providing enhanced security, along with the added benefit of a faster processing time. Greater security and speed means that precious resources can be re-deployed for more critical functions such as the detection of terrorist threats.
The next step will be the implementation of facial and iris recognition technology for interested Governments to keep their societies safe and secure.