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Iris Recognition Used to Secure Borders


Due to the disastrous events of 9/11 and the continued threat of global terrorism, governments worldwide continue to respond to heightened levels of security on national borders. Slowdowns at airports however can hinder global trade, so governments are working to balance the need for both streamlined passenger air travel and enhanced public security. To make the process of security more manageable, governments have been turning to iris recognition in order to secure borders and provide a more practical substitute for passports.

What is iris recognition? Iris recognition has been defined as an automated method of biometric identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of an individual’s eyes, whose complex random patterns are unique and can be seen from some distance. Digital templates encoded from these patterns by mathematical and statistical algorithms allow unambiguous positive identification of an individual.

Many millions of persons in several countries around the world have been enrolled in iris recognition systems, for convenience purposes such as passport-free automated border-crossings, and some national ID systems based on this technology are being deployed. The key advantages of iris recognition is its speed of verification and its extreme resistance to false matches, along with the absolute uniqueness of the iris as a personal identification marker.

In the UK, border control points at Heathrow and Gatwick airports use iris recognition and will accelerate its use for the 2012 London Olympics. In Canada and the United States, iris recognition is also used for NEXUS, a bi-national program for pre-approved, low-risk travelers entering Canada or United States at designated air, land, and marine entry ports.

Iris recognition is arguably the most dependable way to secure border crossings. Iris scanning is an ideal security measure since the iris does not change its form or shape over one’s lifetime and because iris recognition cannot be altered even when wearing glasses or contact lenses. And because the technology is non-invasive, the iris can be can scanned from mere centimeters to a few meters away.

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