And the beat goes on ...
Somehow it seems - often
in spite of itself - the biometrics industry is making real
progress these days. While most of the focus remains on
the two steps forward, three steps back "progress" of
large and prestigious ID programs (UK National ID,
U.S. REAL ID, TWIC, & HSPD-12, etc.), daily
news and announcements proclaim the value of the
practical applications of biometric technology.
Some of these are mundane; some are surprisingly
innovative and unexpected. Many are uniquely served by biometrics
in a way that circumvents much of the debate about
performance, privacy and civil liberties, and the
cost/benefit justification. There are a range of
commercial applications where biometrics
offers a cost effective means of solving specific
problems otherwise unsolvable. And do not necessarily
require large, centralized databases, storage of other
personal information, or 100% accuracy. Targeted ROI
based problem solving -- what a concept!
This edition of the eUpdate
briefly reviews some of the stalls and slips along the
circuitous and sometime painful path of large-scale government
ID programs while pointing to the success of a range of
commercial applications. These include the highly under
rated area of Time and Attendance where biometrics have
been effectively used for more than a decade with proven
ROI (Acuity just competed a white paper on this subject
and a link is included below). We also take a brief look at
what is emerging as the dark side or the "underbelly" of
biometrics. The use of this technology to
monitor - and in some cases control - society's underclass.
As always, your feedback is welcome.
And please feel free to forward your copy of the eUpdate
to colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.
C. Maxine Most
C. Maxine Most
Acuity Market Intelligence
Acuity Market Intelligence | 640 W Linden St | Louisville, C0 80027| USA
+1 303 449 1897     www.acuity-mi.com.com
Large Scale ID Slips and Stalls
Recent news and announcements
are beginning to cast a shadow on the
industry euphoria surrounding the
proliferation of large-scale government sponsored
ID programs. Here are some of the
- UK National ID is delayed again. Deadlines
have been pushed out, two major integrators have withdrawn
from contract consideration, and the debate about the
feasibility, legality, and practicality of the program persist.
A new set of guidelines appear to make acquiring an ID
compulsory for some, optional for others, and
generally confusing for everyone.
- TWIC is making some progress -- at least on
the card issuance front. It is now possible to get a TWIC card
through it is not clear what you can do with it if you get one.
This seems to be standard operating procedure with many of these ID
programs. Issue the cards first and worry about the
operational and infrastructure issues later - including the biometric
and its counterparts have become enrollment only programs.
It is unfortunate, yet likely, by the time these larger, complex issues are
resolved, the cards themselves will have to be re-engineered and re-issued.
- REAL ID is a rather schizophrenia program.
On one hand, several border states are in active, urgent discussions
with the DHS to qualify state issued REAL ID compliant
driver's licenses that can be used for routine, local border
crossing. On the other hand, the Bush administration has
pushed out deadlines for REAL ID to 2017. On yet another hand,
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, said he would continue
to push for passage of a bill that would repeal the Real ID Act.
To date, 17 states have passed legislation or resolutions
objecting to the REAL ID Act's provisions, many due to
concerns it will cost them too much to comply.
The 17, according to the ACLU, are:
Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho,
Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska,
Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington state.
- HSPD-12 is another case of an ID program
morphed into a card
issuance program. It is further
complicated by the fact that a number of agencies are producing their own
cards as well as the GSA acting as a central supplier to a
number of other agencies. To date, government deadlines for card production
have been met; but just barely by the most generous of standards.
Substantial numbers of HSPD-12 compliant
cards have yet to be issued and it is
highly unlikely that the 2008 deadline for full implementation
will be met. The biggest irony is the DHS has
received an extension to meet this "security" mandate and has
until 2010 to achieve full compliance.
The response from vendor and integrator communities
tends to be a huge collective sigh as they plug along
and compete for biometric business that is available. However,
in the long run,
this may not actually be such bad news for the industry.
Given some of
long issued warnings by IT and security experts,
and privacy and civil liberties advocates, concerning
these very large-scale ID solutions,
slowdown is not as calamitous as it may seem.
For the health of the biometrics industry, it is much more important
that these large-scale ID programs
are done right than done rapidly.
Time and Attendance: The Quiet Revolution
Automated time clocks are not exactly the
sexiest application of biometrics but according
to new Acuity research, more than 400,000 of these
devices have been deployed worldwide with proven bottom
line benefits. Time and attendance is really a workhorse
of the biometrics industry. With little attention or
fanfare - unlike some of the more "prestigious" applications
that have received most of the hype with limited success
- this market has experienced sustained
growth over the last ten years. Acuity projects that
CAGR for time and attendance will be nearly
40% over the next five years.
Acuity was recently contracted to develop a
whitepaper for ADP discussing the benefits
biometrics bring to the Workforce Management
environment. The abstract follows and you can
access a pre-publication version of the whitepaper online.
The final version will appear on the ADP website in the next week or so.
Biometrics: High-value Workforce Management
The critical role of biometric time and attendance to workforce
One of the critical success factors for any workforce management solution is the ability to address time theft. Industry estimates place intentional and error-driven time theft in the range of 1.5% to 10% of gross payroll, costing U.S. businesses hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Biometric-based time and attendance solutions virtually eliminate the most significant source of time theft known as buddy-punching, the practice of one worker “clocking” in or out for another. Biometrics offers the only effective means of addressing the buddy-punching dilemma by directly linking an individual worker to a personal labor record. This proven technology has been used in time clocks for more than a decade by thousands of organizations and millions of employees worldwide and the results are in - biometrics consistently deliver accurate, reliable, and auditable real-time labor data -- the foundation of effective labor management. Companies of all sizes are increasingly implementing automated workforce management systems that incorporate biometric time clocks and seeing a significant reduction in direct and indirect labor costs.
A spate of commercial applications ranging from mainstream to
radical are popping up across the globe. For many of these applications,
biometrics enable a practical and effective solution unavailable with other
manual or technology-based options.
Here are a few representative examples:
- Protecting Girls form Online Predators: Anne's Diary is a website designed
for kid safe, social networking for 6 to 14 year old girls. Unlike
other social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace,
Anne's Diary incorporates finger scans to verify the identity of the
person logged on to the site.
- Technology Hosting Facility Security: Eircom - Ireland's telecom giant - will invest €100M
in a new Dublin based data center. The 125,000 square foot
computer system hosting facility will be fitted with the latest power,
cooling, fire suppression, and biometric security measures.
- Childcare Facility Access: Tutor Time Child/Learning Centers
has installed biometric finger scan access control at all of its more than
100 locations across the United States to improve
the safety and security of the children in their care.
- Hospital Logical Access: Austria's largest private hospital
chain, the 'Barnherzie Brüuder', is using biometric finger scans to
control IT access for doctors and nurses. The 'Barnherzie Brüuder'
run nine hospitals in Austria that will be using biometrically
enabled mice for 3500 employees by the end of 2008.
- University Coursework Submission: Napier University of Edinburgh, Ireland
is going biometric -- at least the School of Computing is. Students are
using finger scan technology to confirm their identity when submitting coursework.
- Convenience Store Security: A Cash & Carry
Superstore in Kemerovo, Russia is using a facial recognition assisted video
surveillance system to identity shoplifters.
and you have to love this one ...
- Automated Marijuana Dispenser: A licensed Los Angeles
marijuana dispensary has taken a whole new approach to customer
convenience: automation courtesy of biometric finger scans. The large, black, heavily
armored dispensing machine reads a swipe card integrated with software that
confirms the patient has not overfilled their monthly "pot" allotment than
uses the biometric to confirm the identity of the recipient.
Biometrics and the Underclass
India is forging ahead with biometrics in both
government and commercial applications. There does, however,
seem to be a distressing pattern emerging in the use of
biometrics as it applies to the lower class members of
Indian society. A review of several announced and/or
implemented programs indicate a willingness to deploy
biometrics to identify the poor, powerless, and
disenfranchised with the promise of improved services and safety.
- Rural ATM Banking: Several banks - including Citibank
and Punjab National Bank - are offering biometrically enabled
ATMS in rural India. The goal is to bring banking to the
"underbanked" i.e. rural, illiterate or semi-illiterate
poor. This does provide services that were not previously
available and does offer some measure of protection against
a manual and corrupt hand-me-down system that often resulted
in theft from those least able to protect themselves or afford it.
However, these ATMs also benefit the financial institutions pursuing
the two thirds of the Indian population currently not connected to
the banking system. Are biometrics really required? Does the use
of this technology only benefit the banks? And, most significantly
who is watching out for the rights of these rural underbanked?
- Cleaning up the Streets for the Commonwealth Games:
Concern about the level of begging in New Delhi ahead of the
2010 Commonwealth Games has prompted the city government to introduce
biometric identification for all people caught begging on the
streets. The authorities claim they want to identify habitual
beggars so they can be rehabilitated. Of the 2537 beggars
arrested in 2007, only half were convicted due to lack of
eyewitness testimony (who wants to testify against a beggar?)
Though officials of the social welfare department and police
commission stress that beggary should be decriminalized
and a new rehabilitation and legal framework should be built,
it is not clear how biometrics will impact this situation
except to build a database of suspected beggars.
- Biometric Ration Cards: The government has enrolled
iris images from 80 million people in Andhra Pradesh to control
and manage the distribution of state-issued food ration cards.
The government intends to create a large centralized database
to reduce fraud and fraud related costs by positively
identifying individual recipients. The database has yet to be
built, let alone the IT system to support it. How this data will be
stored, managed, and used has yet to be defined.
None of these programs is innately discriminatory.
And biometrics certainly can be an
effective tool to serve the underclasses.
However, exclusive application of this technology to those least
able to complain, question, or resist is troubling. In many cases
applying biometrics to
"them" (whether "them" is defined as India's poor, travelers to the U.S. from non-visa waiver
countries or migrant workers from Mexico, foreign workers in the UK,
or European asylum seekers) is far easier and less politically
charged than applying biometrics to "us". And this may provide the
"slippery slope" shortcut privacy and civil liberty advocates have been
warning about for years, ultimately expanding the use of
biometrics from "them" to "us" without ever having undergone adequate debate,
controls, or the development of appropriate legal frameworks.
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Acuity Presentations & Recommended Events
Want more from Acuity
up-close and personal? Acuity's
Principal, C. Maxine Most, will be speaking at
the Voice Biometrics Conference in New York City in May
and may be found wandering the conference sessions and
exhibit hall at the Identity Loop and Security Document World
conferences in London in April. See you then!
Acuity and the eUpdate
are proud sponsors of the following events:
For custom research, analysis or strategic market
development consulting, visit Acuity Market
Intelligence or call +1 303 449 1897
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