UNHCR, Accenture provide global biometric identity management system to help refugees

May 19, 2015 - 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working with Accenture to deliver a biometric technology system for registering and verifying the identities of displaced individuals around the world, providing refugees with the help they need.

After a competitive tendering process, Accenture secured the three-year contract in which UNHCR will deploy Accenture’s biometric identity management system (BIMS) across UNHCR global operations.

Accenture’s system is able to capture and store fingerprints, iris data and facial images of individuals, providing these undocumented refugees with their only personal identity record.

UNHCR has already begun deploying BIMS with refugee camp locations in Thailand and Chad, the latter of which will enable the enrollment and formal identification of 450,000 people residing in more than 19 refugee camps.

The agency has verified the identities of more than 100,000 residents in Chad, and more than 120,000 people within nine camps in Thailand, to date, with the system handling about 2,500 enrollments per day.

BIMS is based on Accenture’s software, Unique Identity Service Platform (UISP), which works in conjunction with UNHCR’s existing case management system.

The software connects verification stations in UNHCR offices and camps around the world back to a central biometric database in Geneva.

Additionally, Accenture will provide UNHCR with on-going system maintenance and user training in support of BIMS.

“This is a great example of how we use digital innovation to improve peoples’ lives and make a real difference in the world,” said Ger Daly, managing director of Accenture’s global public safety business. “By applying emerging technologies in biometrics capture and large-scale identity matching, BIMS will help UNHCR register and identify refugees and channel the delivery of aid to those people most in need.”

UNHCR successfully piloted an early version of BIMS at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi in late 2013. However, the system experienced issues of maintaining power, equipment and online connectivity in remote areas.

During the four-week pilot program, UNHCR enrolled the biometric data of more than 17,000 people and had their identities verified.

Accenture is also working with several other vendors on the projects, including WCC Smart Search & Match, Green Bit, GenKey, Warwick Warp, IriTech, SmartSensors and Cognitec.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.