Implementing Biometrics based Systems: Common Mistakes

Fraudsters have had years to mastered and fine tune their fraudulent methods on conventional means of identification such as passwords, secret codes and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) which can easily be compromised, shared, observed, stolen or forgotten. Therefore, both governments and commercial sectors have turned to more secure Biometrics based solutions which automatically recognize an individual using distinguishing behavioural patterns such as gait, signature, keyboard typing, lip movement, hand-grip or physiological traits such as face, voice, iris, fingerprint and hand geometry. As a result, countries worldwide have opened tenders for Biometric based projects. This has led to a vast majority of industrialists to enter the market with very limited experts. Research analysts at Biometric Research Laboratory (BRL) have outlined the most common pitfalls when implementing biometrics based solutions. BRL is the research group at Namibia Biometric Systems (NBS) which conducts applied research in the implementation of Biometrics based solutions for both governments and commercial applications. Some of the common pitfalls highlighted by researchers at BRL are outlined below:

Consultation – Sufficient time for consultations with technical experts before, during and after implementation is critical to the success of the project. Generally, governments and commercial companies are not prepared for the complexities of implementing biometrics based solutions and either are not aware or lack the understanding of why consultation with a local specialist is critical. Consultation is also essential for successful project plan.

Project Management – Research conducted at BRL show that generally governments and commercial companies don’t have the technical expertise in-house to properly manage or oversee the implementation of the technology and lack essential the project management skills and resources. As a result, the project management team fails to realistically identify possible sources of risk, to consider any mitigating factors and provide appropriate responses. This can lead to the project being poorly managed, risking the safety of the biometrics data, risking the project completion timeframe and provide the vendors of the technology a central role in the implementation of the technology without proper oversight. The issue of identity management and protecting people’s identities is one of the core responsibilities that companies have when implementing biometrics based solution.

Tenders – Governments and private companies tend to place significant trust on tender winning companies which have very different priorities. These conflicting priorities can have dangerous implications for the implementation of the project. In additions, governments and private companies tend to lack the knowledge and understanding of the technology and therefore don’t have the skills and experts to eliminate tendering companies with limited or no experience with the technology.

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