Biometrics in Asia-Pacific

Biometrics in Asia-Pacific

BIOMETRICS can no longer be considered an emerging technology - its time has come.

So says Terry Hartmann, Unisys practice director for Homeland Security and Secure Identification and Biometrics.

Hartmann consults with governments around Asia-Pacific, advising on biometric technology and how it can strengthen domestic security and border patrols through e-passports. Biometrics is the technology of measuring and analysing human characteristics such as voice patterns, fingerprints, eye retinas and irises for authentication. This information can be stored on a microchip and embedded in a passport, known as an e-passport.

“Anything that physically ties a person to something is biometrics. In terms of passports the face is the only biometric that’s mandatory, while fingerprint and iris recognition is secondary,” says Hartmann.

The US has set a deadline of October 2005 for its visa-waiving programme that requires the 27 member nations to have e-passports.

Of the 27 nations, 22 are in Europe and five are in the Asia-Pacific region including New Zealand.

Hartmann says New Zealand is one of the most active nations in terms of international standards on e-passports. “New Zealand is in the top ten countries working in this area - probably about number two. The market is exploding at the moment, especially in countries like Singapore and Thailand. Soon more and more people will have these documents.” He says Unisys provides services and solutions to clients but not products and points out that any supplier of biometrics can “come on board”.

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