This is what a legacy system looks like

Moral turpitude, severe violations of the religious freedom of others, intent to become a prostitute, not if you want a USA visa, you don’t.

Why are US visa questions so weird? (Financial Times – Registration Required to read the linked article)

The reason US visa forms seem such an odd accretion of questions is that is what they are. They have been added to over the decades to confront whatever danger the US was dealing with at the time.

Are the visa forms an effective way of keeping undesirables out of the US? “If we’re interested in keeping people who mean to do us harm out, it’s not very effective,” Mr Chishti says. Biometric screening, databases and finger printing are far more useful, he says.

Philippines: Biometrics help Manila facilitate better flood control measures

Biometric census on informal settler families living along Manggahan Floodway has already been completed (Manila Bulletin)

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said yesterday they have sent the list of identified informal settlers residing in eight identified priority waterways in Metro Manila who are scheduled to be relocated by next December.

Once shanties have been removed, the government can start with the flood-preventing projects which are hampered by the presence of illegal structures along the waterways.

The move is part of the flood control master plan in a bid to solve the perennial flood problems in the Metro Manila.

BigID and the changing nature of national identity infrastructures

Nigeria’s new ID has apps!

Credit card linked to Nigerian ID (Financial Mail)

In the programme’s first phase, Nigerians aged 16 and older and all who have been resident there for more than two years will get the new multipurpose ID, which has 13 applications. It is expected that up to 13m Nigerians will use the product in the first phase.

Among the apps is MasterCard’s prepaid technology, which will give cardholders the ability to make electronic payments. MasterCard says this will also have a positive impact on Nigerians who until now have not had access to mainstream financial services.

This one bears keeping an eye on.

In a couple of pioneering cases, the very concept of “The ID” is shifting

To most people, an ID looks a lot like a product — something useful that the government sells to an individual. Pay your fee; get your card. Lose your card; buy a new one.

India and Nigeria (South Africa is pretty bold, too) are pointing the way toward a future where ID isn’t just a product, though no government is going to give up its ID card product line any time soon. The future as these countries see it is ID as a government-backed platform supporting an ID ecosystem. They have the bucket (database structure). Now it’s being filled (populated). If they get the application programming interface/s (API) right, fasten your seat belt. Things will get really interesting really fast as all sorts of apps hooking into the ID infrastructure become available. Biometric technologies will be an integral part of this transition to “BigID.”

UPDATE:
See also:
Brainstorming UID with Srikanth Nadhamuni
The video there is very informaative and extremely worthwhile.

UPDATE II:
I forgot to mention the UAE as another forward-thinking ID environment. The UAE ID is set to be deployed on smartphones.

The changing face of security and access control

Gary Hills, Head of capital development at the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) had some interesting things to say at the recent FMP London event. [ed. I’m pretty sure FMP stands for Facility Management Professional, but I was shocked to see how popular the acronym is.]

The BBC is considering using biometric access controls at its buildings. (FM World)

Hills said the first phase of the BBC’s review had seen 15 control rooms consolidated into one.

He added: “Access ID is used – not biometrics yet, but [we are] looking at it for the second phase. [We] think it will be more acceptable now as they have it in schools and colleges.

“Security is now more a building management role and the information that comes through the control room can be used more widely for building management.”

Adam Vrankulj at Biometric Update ties the story back to recent industry forecasts for the access control market.

I predict some real upheaval in the market for security systems and access control. So far, large security providers have been able to keep their market walled off from competition from the providers of other types of networked information technology. If increasing numbers of facilities management professionals see the world as Gary Hills does, those days are numbered.

Biometrics & ID infrastructure: Perfect is the enemy of good

No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art.
—John Ruskin

Everybody knows that there’s nothing perfect in this world, yet plenty that is imperfect also happens to be very useful.

Identity management is one of these. Conducted by people to account for people, with human beings on both sides of the equation, perfection is out of the question. Only someone who misunderstands the ends of the art of ID can reject a certain solution because it falls short of perfection.

Is using a name to identify a person perfect?
Some people can’t speak. Some people can’t hear. Some people can’t read. Some can’t write. Many people share the same name.

A token?
Tokens are lost, stolen, counterfeited.

Maybe a photo then?
Some people can’t see.

Fingerprints, then?
Some people don’t have hands, at all.

Iris?
Some people don’t have eyes.

People cope with imperfection in all aspects of their lives including identity management. Planning for exceptions to the routine ID management transaction is something all existing ID management systems already do. Biometrically enabled ID management systems are no different.

None of the above ID techniques is perfect yet (especially when combined) they are all useful. In this context, a proper understanding of Ruskin’s “ends of art” is Return on Investment, not perfection. The economic value of something does not lie in its perfection. It lies in its ability to help improve things by a measure exceeding the sum of its costs.

What distinguishes biometric systems from earlier ID management techniques, especially in the development context, is that they are an extremely effective and affordable means of establishing a unique identity for individuals among populations that have not been highly organized in the past.

Low access to education? High illiteracy? Poor birth records? Highly transient populations? Recent wars left high numbers of orphans or displaced people? New democracy? For countries answering “yes” to any of these or other similar questions, biometric systems are about the only economically viable choice for developing the ID infrastructure that people who can already verify their identity take for granted.

Additionally, when compared to the investments made by the powers of the Industrial Age to develop their ID management systems —  investments still out of reach for the governments of billions of people — biometrics while cheaper, seem capable of outperforming Industrial Age systems. We know this because existing systems using the best Industrial Age techniques have been audited using biometrics. When the older systems are audited with biometric techniques all sorts of errors and inconsistencies are discovered, errors whose numbers would have been reduced significantly, had biometrics been used in the creation of new profiles in the relevant ID systems.

SRA keeps DOJ biometrics management project

SRA to help DOJ with biometric database system (Washington Technology)

The contract was awarded under the Information Technology Support Services 4 procurement vehicle. SRA will continue managing, operating and maintaining the agency’s Joint Biometric Data Exchange Hosting Environment infrastructure.

Services include system operations, maintenance and help desk support, system development, government furnished equipment inventory/distribution management and system security.

UAE: The World’s most complete ID management laboratory

Emirates ID has world’s largest integrated biometrics (Go Dubai News)

Dr. Al Khouri added “providing a comprehensive database of inhabitants’ fingerprints, will contribute and support projects related to Emirates national vision 2021, aimed at enhancing the security and advancement of society, as well as supporting e-government projects through authenticating personal identity in e-transactions conducted over the Internet, thus contributing to hindering the risk of identity theft that increases day by day worldwide. This criminal behavior caused losses estimated at hundreds of billions of Dirhams.

He explained that the Authority succeeded in this achievement, as a result of the reengineering of registration procedures and the improving of electronic infrastructure, through the use of modern and high quality electronic hardware and software specialized in capturing high quality fingerprints.

The Cat-Herder’s Lament – IT and Organizational Culture

Reversing Poor Data Management Culture (This Day Live)

In the conduct of studies in less developed countries (LDCs), while great emphasis is placed on study design, data collection and analysis, very often, little attention is paid to data management. As a consequence, investigators working in these countries frequently face challenges in cleaning, analysing and interpreting data. In most research settings, the data management team is formed with temporary and unskilled persons.

This article offers a lot of detail about how and why organizations crash into the hard lesson that biometrics for ID management (or any IT system, for that matter) can’t run an organization by themselves. The efficiencies and return on investment offered by biometric ID management (and other IT) systems are so great that they are almost irresistible. While they make organizations easier to manage, they can never truly operate outside the cultural environment where they reside.

When a hallmark of a management culture is to carve out administrative turf and defend it to the last, things like this happen:

Nine years ago, Nigeria spent billions of naira on the National Identity Card Scheme (NICS), and another huge amount was gulped by the National Census in 2006. Last year, the Independent National Electronic Commission (INEC), spent close to N90 billion on a voter registration exercise, while the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) spent an unjustified N6 billion on SIM card registration. This year, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is at it again as it seeks to expend N30 billion for a national ID scheme.

The issues discussed in the article are faced by all sorts of large organizations, not just LDC’s. A lot of the complaints would sound exactly the same coming from inside large universities in the United States.

Read the whole thing.

Back to Three Sides of the Same Coin

Nigeria Continues to Develop its ID Infrastructure.

A State that desires to deliver the benefits to society that all modern people have come to require of it*, will find things vastly simpler with an effective ID infrastructure. Biometrics are a cheap and effective way of building that infrastructure and are a true leap-frogging technology.

Here’s another indication that Nigeria is taking advantage of biometrics as to build a modern identity infrastructure. This article is about the banking and finance sector, an important piece of the development puzzle to be sure.

Bank Customers to Face Biometric Verification (This Day)

According to the CBN, the activities and processes of customers’ due diligence that financial institutions must perform to identify their customers, among others, remain key to the development of the financial system.

It also regretted that: “Verification of customers’ identity has been very difficult in Nigeria because the identity environment is fraught with adverse and disparate types of identity systems, all running in silos and having no link, integration or standardisation nor a centralised identity database for verifying the identity of bank customers.

“The absence of a central standardised identity database, and the relevant infrastructure to support access to this database, for the verification and authentication of identity, have had a constraining effect on the country’s growth and development, effective credit administration, effective administration of most government services and collation of accurate data and statistics that could be leveraged on to drive effective planning, both in the public and private sectors.”

The extremely frank and technical discussion at the end of the article — what it all means, why Nigeria is where it is, the costs of the status quo, and the opportunities do be derived from a more effective ID management environment — is really good stuff. You don’t see it laid out like that too often in the mainstream press.

*National defense, basic education, vaccination programs, enforceable private contracts, well regulated public utilities, etc. Basically, it’s just really hard for the government to do anything well if it doesn’t know who anybody (perhaps everybody?) is.

Translate »