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NADRA selling biometric kit abroad, denies reported CNIC issuance expansion at home

All-in-One Indigenous Kit showcased at ID4Africa
NADRA selling biometric kit abroad, denies reported CNIC issuance expansion at home

In recent developments, Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has made considerable steps in improving digital identity management services by implementing innovative biometric solutions and increasing public access to identity card services. The recent statement of the Interior Ministry suggesting Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC) issuance at union councils (UCs) around the country, however, has caused some confusion, with NADRA explaining that there are currently no plans for such facilities. This highlights the limitations of adopting large-scale identity services at the grassroots level, according to Dawn News.

Simultaneously, NADRA, in partnership with its subsidiary NADRA Technologies Limited (NTL) and the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC), will exhibit two cutting-edge indigenous digital identity solutions at the ID4Africa conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The All-in-One Indigenous Kit, which includes advanced biometric features such as a high-resolution camera, fingerprint scanner, facial recognition capabilities, and an advanced iris biometrics scanner, is poised to revolutionize digital identity verification and administration. These efforts demonstrate NADRA’s dedication to increasing service delivery, security, and technological self-reliance in Pakistan. ProPakistani reported

Confusion over CNIC issuance at the Union Council level

According to a press release issued by the Press Information Department, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Pakistan said that Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi has announced plans to establish CNIC issuance and renewal facilities at the union council level across the country, as well as to install biometric machines in all union councils. He directed NADRA to develop a secure plan within a few days. He sought to expand NADRA centers in key cities to reduce wait times and prevent fake identity card activities.

However, according to the Dawn news report, NADRA swiftly stated that no such arrangements existed. The confusion arose from a meeting held by Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, during which it was proposed that UCs might manage CNIC services. NADRA officials later clarified that adopting this at around 8,000 UCs would necessitate significant financial resources, hardware, and labor, rendering it impracticable.

While decentralizing CNIC issuance may improve public convenience, the feasibility of such a large-scale rollout presents significant hurdles. A gradual overview, beginning with chosen UCs, maybe a more manageable approach for guaranteeing resource availability and operational effectiveness.

Unveiling indigenous biometric solutions at ID4Africa

According to NADRA’s official statement and social media handles, the NADRA Technologies Limited (NTL) and the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) have developed the All-in-One Indigenous Kit and IRIS Scanner, which will be unveiled at the ID4Africa 2024 Annual General Meeting of the Identification for Development (ID4D) community. These modern biometric technologies incorporate several authentication capabilities into small, robust devices.

The All-in-One digital identity kit features a high-resolution camera, iris and fingerprint biometric scanners, facial recognition software, contact and contactless card reading, and barcode scanning. It also provides reliable communication via 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, and is powered by a 10,000mAh battery in an IP65-rated shell. The accompanying IRIS Scanner enables high-definition, contactless iris capture with accuracy.

These all-in-one Pakistan-made devices reflect a substantial advancement in Pakistan’s technological capability. The introduction of this state-of-the-art digital identity kit is expected to bolster Pakistani international trade, with its global sale opening up avenues for foreign exchange earnings. Moreover, it has the potential to boost national identification programs, voter registration programs, law enforcement, and border control. Showcasing at the ID4D Conference demonstrates Pakistan’s dedication to advancing safe and effective identity management systems on a global scale.

Moreover, Rida Qazi, spokesperson director of public engagement at NADRA, tells Biometric Update that the kit securely captures and transmits biometric data to a central database using encrypted protocols. It complies with international standards for accuracy and can perform on-device verification, she said.

To prevent surveillance abuse, Qazi states, the agency follows best international practices and internal policy controls. The kit, produced locally by NRTC, will be accessible nationwide as a commercial product in a variety of configurations, ensuring widespread accessibility and improved identity verification throughout Pakistan.

Collaboration and international showcase

NADRA’s collaboration with the National Radio and Telecommunications Corporation NRTC resulted in biometric solutions for digital ID programs such as the All-in-One Indigenous Kit and IRIS Scanner. These innovations are expected to improve NADRA’s registration centers and electronic know-your-customer (digital KYC) operations, ensuring secure and efficient identity verification. The solutions will be displayed at the ID4Africa conference, emphasizing Pakistan’s technological advances. This international presentation highlights the potential for these solutions to have a substantial influence on national ID initiatives, voter registration, and other sensitive areas.

The innovative biometric solutions and initiatives to improve CNIC issuance could represent important advances in digital identity management by NADRA. However, the uncertainty about union council UC-level services demonstrates the difficulty of large-scale execution. The exhibition of an all-in-one digital identity kit at ID4Africa’s 2024 AGM in Cape Town demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment to technological self-reliance and worldwide management in secure identity verification. Practical execution and strategic planning are required to fully achieve these benefits for the public.

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