Sunday, May 8, 2011

Biometric IDs in India

In India, an estimated 500 million people have no form of reliable identification. The Indian government started $430 million initiative to use modern biometric methods to identify hundreds of millions of citizens. From each volunteer participant, the government collects 10 fingerprints, 2 iris images, and a photo, and if the new data don't match any identity already enrolled, it assigns the person a unique 12-digit number. After that, a single fingerprint or iris scan should be all that's needed to verify the identity of any person.

Gathering the biometric data is challenging in the rural population of India as many fingerprints have been obscured or erased by manual labor. The combination of fingerprint, iris image, and photo reduced false positive errors in 0.0025 percent of cases in the pilot study. Biometrics data are collected at government offices by government employees or private enrollment agencies. A single sensor can collect data from up to 50 people per day.

Once people received their biometric ID, their data can be used to provide them access to banking services and improve transparency for how support money reaches people living in poverty.

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