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Cutting-edge fingerprint identification technology for border security [3:22]

Movie script

Singapore… one of Asia’s most prosperous financial centers and trading ports. With over 200,000 travelers a day arriving by air, sea and road, border security is a major issue. The airport is a hub for SE Asia and the causeway that links Singapore with Malaysia is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the region.

THE CHALLENGE
For Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, the ICA, facilitating the entry and exit of travelers without compromising on border security is a major challenge. The ICA engaged NEC to enhance the database to implement its decision for an advanced biometrics clearance system.

THE SOLUTION
Singapore already held a database of its citizens’ fingerprints and NEC was already a world leader in fingerprint identification technology. Together they developed the enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System which was both easy to use and fully automated.

Meina (NEC):
Its actually a system whereby a traveler can come in, present a passport, present a fingerprint and clear immigration without having to see the officer face to face.

THE TECHNOLOGY
The 1km causeway between Singapore and Malaysia has just become the first border crossing to use the NEC technology. The traveler first scans his passport with a reader. The system will retrieve his fingerprint record from the national database. The traveler then moves to the fingerprint scanner. The automated gate will open, once the system verifies the passport holder's fingerprint against the database. The traveler need not queue up for clearance with an immigration officer.

Meina (NEC):
It’s very accurate. Our false acceptance rate is actually 0.001%. That gives us an advantage over the rest.

But a further collaboration with the ICA, NEC’s fingerprint identification technology has just been installed at Singapore’s passport office for the production of the new Singapore biometric passport.
Embedded in the bio-data page is a small RFID chip, containing the holder’s biometric data. The passport and its chip comply with international standards, facilitating the overseas travels of Singaporeans. The applicant’s fingerprint is scanned into the computer. Then the passport photograph is scanned in too.

Meina (NEC):
At the moment what’s embedded in the smart chip is actually our facial image and for Singapore’s case we our fingerprint information in it and in future we might have our iris embedded in it as well.

In due course, machinery to read the chips will be installed at all Singapore’s ports of entry.

THE BENEFITS
Biometric passports are set to become a global standard. Thanks to its collaboration with NEC, Singapore is one of the first countries to issue them. Now that the immigration process takes less than 12 seconds per person – the ICA can feel confident it has the best possible system in place for homeland security.

Overview

Biometrics identification technology (Singapore)

Photo: Biometrics identification technology (Singapore)

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.

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