Planning for Biometrics Scenarios – Part 2

The previous article outlined two main biometric scenarios to plan for, high security hosting and Other Entry Access. High security hosting has to deal with a high volume of people requiring access to a highly secure facility via a guarded access point which makes impossible for highly trained guards to remember every individual who should be allowed in the facility without the unnecessary delays. Remembering all the individuals on the master list is a big challenge for even the most qualified guards. Other Entry Access deals with the size of the organisation and the volume of people entering and accessing the facilities which impacts the decision processes for selecting a suitable security solution. Organisations must plan for all biometric scenarios as required by their organisation including side entrances and parkinglot elevators with no human supervision, so anyone who happens to know the door code from watching someone else punching it in would be able to gain access to the facility. This article focuses on the 3rd biometric scenario to plan for, Port of entry.

Port of entry scenarios are similar to high-security hosting, only on a massively larger scale and without the advantage of a master list of authorized persons. In general, traditional port of entry system utilises traditional passports which are relatively difficult to duplicate identification. Traditional passports employ manual biometrics whereby the officer at the gate compares the passport picture with the person presenting it. Traditional passport system depends to a large degree on how difficult it is to modify or create a passport without being detected. In addition, manual biometrics is prone high error rates especially when the officer is suffering from tiredness. The outlined challenge can easily be circumvented by biometrics by include electronics with the passport itself so it has these two features:

  • An electronic key to verify that the information on the passport was encrypted using a key belonging to the country of origin.
  • Encrypted biometric data that can be compared to the biometrics of the person presenting the passport.

Biometric based systems are not perfect, but make the data somewhat harder to forge and do not require a master database. Another port of entry concern is the identification of individuals on the watch lists or those who have been expelled from the country for some reason. With biometrics, it’s possible to collect biometric information from the subjects with or without their cooperation and then use that information to identify them as they try to cross the border. This scenario does require a master list of persons and their biometrics but it’s much smaller than the list of everyone on Earth who might decide to travel.

Researchers at Biometric Research Laboratory (BRL) within Namibia Biometric Systems (NBS) will continue to further highlight the most common use scenarios and some possible pitfall scenarios for biometrics in the next few articles. Are our borders equipped with the technology to monitor international watch list?

More information on the implementation of biometrics based solutions can be requested from