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This article introduces the basic technology of biometric identification systems.


Bio-metric identification is a means of identification that involves the use of bio-metric information.

What is biometric information?

Put simply biometric information is information about a specific person’s body. Hair colour and height are simple examples of bio-metric information. However for identification purposes hair colour and height are not very useful information because they change relatively rapidly (hair colour is changed by dye or by sunshine or by age; a person’s height varies throughout the day according to the pressure on the spine). For identification purposes the most well-known type of bio-metric information is the fingerprint; these are used because it is believed that no two people have the same patterns in the skin of their fingers and the patterns are relatively constant; they might change a little as a person gains or loses weight but the patterns remain recognizable. Another commonly used form of bio-metric information is DNA sequences. DNA is the biological code that is present in every cell in the body and that describes each individual person.

What is a Fingerprint Identification System (FIS)?

A Fingerprint Identification System is one that makes use of fingerprint scanners to capture and compare fingerprints for the purpose of identifying people. The fingerprints captured are typically stored on a central database or smart card from where it is fetched to match with a live fingerprint to confirm that the candidate is the same person who was previously enrolled on the Fingerprint Identification System.

What is a bio-metric identity card?

Probably almost everybody knows that an identity card is a piece of cardboard or plastic that is shown to security guards, police officers, and immigration staff. Cards are issued by all manner of organisations: universities issue them to staff and students, governments’ issue them to citizens, companies issue them to their staff.  Most of these cards contain some basic details such as name, a photograph of the person’s face and a reference number that allows the card to be matched to some central record held by the card issuer.  Some of the more sophisticated cards also contain magnetic strips or bar-codes that can be used with other machines to unlock doors so that the card acts like a key.

A bio-metric identity card is similar to existing cards but will also contain bio-metric information.

How will biometric information be put on a card?

In the 21st century it is possible to store quite large amounts of information in very small spaces. The information can be stored on a microchip on the card or on a magnetic strip. These are the same technologies that have been used on credit cards for some years. The amount of storage space needed to describe a person’s fingerprints can easily be stored on a small microchip and that microchip can quite easily be embedded into thin plastic like a credit card — this is the same sort of technology as is used on the “chip and pin” cards that UK banks have been issuing since about 2003.

What bio-metric information will be stored on the card?

Fingerprint templates and basic personal details like Names, Sex and Date of Birth.

How will the information used once it is on the card?

Merely issuing identification cards doesn’t achieve anything … identification cards only have purpose if they are checked and used to control access to places and services. The information on the card has to be checked against that stored on the central database or at least the fingerprint may be matched against a live fingerprint to confirm that the holder is actually the one whom the card was issued to.

Do you need this solution?

The regular Identity Card is not fool proof, that is why examination bodies like JAMB have already embraced fingerprint identification for examination candidates. If you really want to prevent someone from assuming another person’s identity in a critical process or activity, then bio-metric identification is your best bet, contact us today.

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