Facing up to security challenges

A number of deals using facial recognition technology will be announced in coming weeks with deployment in Australia expected as early as June.

Provider Imagis Technologies, which used the technology to protect APEC delegates in Mexico late last year, expects to ink the first local deal later this month.

The company's Asia-Pacific regional director, Roger Henning, said the level of interest by governments and companies that form part of Australia's critical infrastructure is "staggering".

While unwilling to disclose customer names, Henning said there was a "phenomenal" amount of activity set to be launched locally from state and federal governments, law enforcement, utilities, banks and telecommunications.

"We are working day and night to keep up with demand because the technology will benefit all interested parties including banks; we can eliminate identity fraud and social security fraud," he said adding that airports are vulnerable and "they know it".

"Photo ID and swipe cards are totally inadequate; most companies are using access control systems and in 90 per cent of instances nobody really knows if the right person has entered a secure area.

"Facial recognition also eliminates piggybacking [by another person when one person] walks through the door using a card."

For those that claim biometrics is costly and complex, Henning said when facial recognition is backed on existing CCTV surveillance systems it is fairly inexpensive.

"The organisations interested in this product ID-2000 have existing infrastructure in place that reduces the overall cost substantially," he said.

By 2004, the financial services market will spend about $1.8 billion annually on biometric technology, according to analyst firm IDC.

Banks already looking to deploy biometrics include Citibank and the Deutsche Bank.

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