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Singapore considering iris scanning systems at borders


Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs is currently looking to implement iris scanning systems at its borders, having issued a request for information last week asking all interested vendors to submit proposals by October 10, according to a report by The Straits Times.

Once the Ministry of Home Affairs successfully finds a vendor, it could eventually lead to a small-scale trial of implementing iris scanning technology at the country’s airports.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority has selected contactless iris capturing and authentication as “a potentially viable technology to complement our existing biometrics system… for use at our checkpoints”, a spokesperson for the government agency told The Straits Times.

Iris scanning would require a pre-registration process of an individual’s unique iris pattern, which would then be linked to his or her passport information.

As the individual walks through a security checkpoint, the machine scans the eyes to verify their identity – comparable to fingerprint scanning technique, which is currently being implemented at Singapore Changi Airport.

“This RFI allows MHA and ICA to assess the existing state of iris scan technology and its viability for use at our checkpoints,” said the spokesperson. “As this is still at the exploratory stage, it is premature for us to provide the operational details at this juncture.”

ICA did not provide any details on where or how it is considering testing the iris scanning system, but the RFI did state that any trial will be done at an “enrolment centre for issuance of identification documents and at a high traffic location such as border checkpoints”.

Singapore could be the first country in Asia to use iris scanning at its borders, while other countries, including Britain, have trialed the technology at some airports to varying results.

Some studies have shown that iris scanning accuracy can be affected by eye diseases, such as cataracts, and other anomalies including watery eyes, long eyelashes or hard contact lenses but the technology is improving.

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