Looking back at the last 18 months, I am amazed by the progress biometric civil ID programs have made around the world. Whether it is the national elections in Brazil and Nigeria, or the widespread ID enrollment program in India, fingerprint biometrics have been a significant factor in the success of many Civil ID programs.
As we look at what’s to come in 2012, one thing stands out: mobile devices and fingerprint biometrics will come together to enable more widespread civil ID programs that can deliver a multitude of services to even the most rural locations.
There are two developments that point to mobile biometric identity solutions breaking out in 2012. The first is the acceptance of biometric technology in emerging nations as a common form of citizen identification. Both Brazil and Nigeria have used the technology in their national elections, and in doing so gained international support and approval.
Five-years ago, this was not the case. But, in countries where election fraud has been rampant for as long as citizens have been voting, fingerprint biometrics has created a new reality. One citizen now means one vote. Not only does this give everyone peace of mind, it also significantly reduces the political and societal turmoil that had become commonplace after contested elections.
The benefits of fingerprint biometrics didn’t stop with elections. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues on its quest to establish identity for all of its citizens, even in the most remote parts of the country.
The second trend that is beginning to take shape is advancements in technology that enable for the extension of fingerprint biometrics to mobile devices. Anyone who has attended biometrics or security conferences in 2011 can attest to the interest in this convergence.
Mobile ID terminal manufacturers are ramping up their research and development efforts to make the terminals smaller, more affordable and more adept at interacting with central databases. Biometric technology developers are improving their algorithms to be more accurate and power efficient for easier integration. Both of these groups are collaborating to make the complete package less expensive and easier to use. It is my belief that these combined development efforts will bear fruit in the coming year.
So, what does the convergence of mobile devices and fingerprint biometrics mean for international governments and their citizens?
In 2012, we will see biometrically-enabled mobile terminals adopted by governments in emerging nations in many parts of the world. The adoption of the technology will continue to be led by Africa, India and South America, and we will begin to see greater uptake in Eastern Europe.
Mobile biometrics technology will first be used to create national ID databases containing all citizens, not just those in major cities. Governments will begin to use the new ID system to not only refine their election processes, but to also extend fingerprint identification to other services, such as entitlements, micro-finance and the delivery of healthcare services.
From this effort, we will see social change and the reduction of fraud in services. In the end, honest delivery of social services will mean more people receive their benefits, and in some cases, their civil rights. It is my belief that 2012 will be a significant year for the growth of biometrics and mobile technologies and the social change they will help create.
About the AVISIAN Publishing Expert Panel
At the close of each year, AVISIAN Publishing’s editorial team selects a group of key leaders from various sectors of the ID technology market to serve as Expert Panelists. Each individual is asked to share their unique insight into what lies ahead. During the month of January, these panelist’s predictions are published daily at the appropriate title within the AVISIAN suite of ID technology publications: SecureIDNews, ContactlessNews, CR80News, NFCNews, DigitalIDNews, ThirdFactor, RFIDNews, EnterpriseIDNews, FinancialIDNews, GovernmentIDNews, HealthIDNews, FIPS201.com, IDNoticias es.