How are biometrics used?
Currently, national-scale applications, such as the national identity scheme, are prominent. Biometric passports, visas and other border control programmes are increasingly using biometrics to address major concerns of impersonation and multiple identities. By supplementing existing document checks with biometrics, it is believed that instances of identify fraud in international travel can be substantially reduced.
In the commercial sector, biometric recognition is typically used for physical access control to buildings and logical access control to IT systems. Financial institutions are making increasing use of speaker recognition systems for remote identification of customers telephoning call centres. Advantages include convenience to customers (no need to remember passwords), increased security and accountability, and lower administration costs.
For biometric applications to be effective, high quality registration and enrolment processes must be in place to establish the correct identity of the individuals being registered, their entitlement to be registered, and to generate high quality biometric references that will facilitate reliable recognition in the future.
Interoperability is also very important for biometrics. Large-scale multi-nation programmes such as biometric passports, require systems provided by different vendors to interoperate. This necessitates common specifications for biometric data formats, quality and performance, and corresponding conformance tests. The development of these specifications lies at the heart of biometric standards.
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