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Singapore to extend national biometric ID system to banking and healthcare sectors, expand facial recognition at borders


Singapore’s government is planning a trial of a National Digital Identity Facial Biometric System, which could enable banks and healthcare facilities to identify users, in the second half of 2019, the Straights Times reports.

The systems will feature checks against a recently-announced government-backed facial identification service from mobile devices or kiosks. Identities will be compared with the country’s existing national biometric database, which contains images and biographical information for 4 million local residents 15 year and older, and is currently used for border checks and access to certain restricted government buildings.

Singapore’s GovTech agency is currently evaluating bids from 10 vendors to build and operate the system. The system must support scanning with individual’s own devices or with kiosks, according to the tender, which closed last month. It must also include anti-spoof and liveness detection capabilities.

The first test of the new system will be simplifying the registration process for government service portal SingPass Mobile, which was launched in October. The first trials at border checkpoints will take place at Woodlands, Tuas, and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminals.

Multi-biometric immigration checks launched

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore plans to begin deploying a new system to provide iris and facial biometric scans in addition to fingerprinting for immigration clearance, Channel News Asia reports.

The ICA said in a statement that the new system will be more accurate, as well as easing screening for travelers with fingerprints affected by physical labor, scars, aging, or genetics. Travelers will be asked to simultaneously scan two thumbprints and face a camera for face and iris scanning.

“A robust biometrics database of travelers, comprising facial images, fingerprint and iris, will be useful for post-incident investigation and data analytics purposes in the event of a security incident,” the ICA wrote in the statement.

The ICA has also been expanding its deployment of security cameras with facial recognition, object recognition, and other capabilities to identify wanted criminals and improve checkpoint safety. Woodlands Checkpoint has had the cameras since 2012, and are in the process of being deployed to other ports, including Changi Airport. The ICA is also deploying facial recognition capabilities to mobile and body-cameras, which could be used in situations such as large-scale events and when officers face infrastructure challenges, such as on board a cruise ship.

“The body-worn cameras allow roving officers on patrol within the checkpoints to accurately and swiftly detect persons-of-interest before they reach the immigration counters,” the ICA said.

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