Will COVID-19 spur a surge in biometrics technologies?

Will COVID-19 spur a surge in biometrics technologies?

This is a guest post by Sanjay Gupta, VP, Global Head of Product and Corporate Development at Mitek

From facial recognition scans that open our smartphones to medical wearables monitoring our heartrates, biometrics technologies have become a near inescapable part of our daily lives. But while these technologies continue to expand around the world, few countries have yet applied them broadly as part of their public infrastructure.

The coronavirus was a wakeup call. Following the success seen in places like Taiwan and South Korea using biometrics to prevent the spread of the virus, countries around the world may look to replicate similar strategies in their own deployment of the technology. As biometrics make their way into the public infrastructure, that opens the door to novel use cases to make our communities safer and our lives more convenient. But how likely is this biometrics revolution, and what would it actually look like?

Laying the groundwork

Taiwan was one of the fastest-acting countries to respond to COVID-19, and the use of fever sensors in airports and public places was a key factor in its success containing the number of infections. To replicate that success, governments and businesses in countries can explore new partnerships to deploy these technologies in their own public spaces.

Local and federal governments control access to airports, transit hubs and municipal buildings where biometrics infrastructure will be most important. In many instances, government agencies are already working with private companies to implement biometrics safeguards in their own facilities. But working together to expand the relationship, the two can lay the groundwork to make biometrics systems a core component of the public infrastructure.

The next stage of the customer experience

The inspiration for larger deployment of biometrics systems may come from the pandemic but, as we know from our own use of biometrics in our daily lives, the technologies aren’t restricted to public health. Once the groundwork has been laid, biometric identification solutions also offer a valuable tool for businesses to improve their customer experience.

For instance, the line you have to wait in to get into your favorite sports center or music venue. Security makes you stand in line, while one-by-one they check your face, ID card and ticket. It’s a time-intensive manual process, but if those venues are able to use facial recognition as part of a broader investment in public use of biometrics, audiences can seamlessly confirm their identity and ticket validation simply by walking in front of a scanner. That’s just one example, but the principle remains the same for countless others – it’s a significantly enhanced experience for the customer, adds another layer of safety to public venues, and allows businesses to save time and costs on more traditional verification methods.

Biometric safety also means digital security

As biometrics become more embedded in our basic public infrastructure, the average person stands to benefit not just from the public safety and customer experience, but from increased security of their personal information as well. Historically, the U.S. and western European countries have avoided such broad deployments over concerns about government oversight as “big brother.” But so long as the use of biometrics in public are handled responsibly, the technology can be a valuable resource for security, not intrusion.

Think of your phone – how often do you access it using facial recognition rather than a password? That’s not just because it’s easier, but because the unique patterns of your face are infinitely more complex than a four-digit passcode.  A majority of consumers already prefer biometrics to traditional security measures, and as the technology becomes a regular feature in public spaces, it provides an opportunity for businesses to further highlight how they’re protecting their customer’s data when they take the bus, shop for new clothes and more.

So, what does the future of biometrics look like? It’s impossible to know exactly how widescale deployment will unfold in the years to come, but the coronavirus is likely to become a catalyst for much broader public investment in the technology around the world. We’ve already seen the success of a select few countries in leveraging biometrics to contain the spread of the pandemic. As others look to safeguard their own citizens, the amplification of public space biometrics technologies will help to keep our communities safer, make our lives easier and our identities more secure.

About the author

Sanjay Gupta is the Vice President, Global Head of Products and Corporate Development at Mitek, a digital identity verification company.

DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.

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