eSSL Biometric Secuwatch

March 3, 2011

CCTVs may keep tabs on examinees

BANGALORE: High-resolution close circuit television (CCTV) cameras and online delivery of question papers could be used in state medical examination halls to catch cheats and prevent invigilators from helping students in writing papers.

The medical education department is planning to try this out at some exam centers on the recommendations of committees which probed the recent malpractices unearthed in nursing and post-graduate exams.

Medical education minister S A Ramadas on Monday said cheats are using hi-tech methods and invigilators themselves fear more complaints from students. “Some schools and colleges already use CCTVs to monitor teaching and students’ behaviour. If a examinee knows CCTV cameras are around, it acts as a deterrent __ like speeding motorists tend to slow down if there’s a camera on a main road,” he added.

The committees, which were constituted following media reports of malpractices and a raid by the minister himself, also recommended that CCTVs be switched on from the time of giving question-and-answer sheets to students till they are sealed in the security box by invigilators.



February 22, 2011

Biometric attendance system at Karnataka University

HUBLI: Irregular and non-punctual staff will be dealt with an iron hand if they fail to be in Karnatak University (KUD) on time, thanks to biometrics fingerprints attendance system which has been installed at all the departments.

Hundreds of employees work at various sections of 52 departments at KUD. The manual attendance system is said to be a cause for concern among the heads of various departments to keep track of the attendance of their subordinates. Their not being punctual was adding to the problem.

The biometric system is expected to instil discipline among the employees so their efficiency is increased. KUD has also installed IP-based CCTV at libraries, administration building, examination building and the main annex to keep a watch on the behaviour of students in libraries and the movement of employees elsewhere.

R M Vatnal, chairman of IT department, which designed and implemented the system, told `The Times of India’ that biometric system is being used in important departments like finance, administration and examination. The biometric devices installed at all other departments are yet to be activated. “The biometric system is being run on a trial basis in some departments. It should be in place at all the departments in the next two months,” he added.


Instead of signing in the register, the employees will have to put the impression of their fingers on the device to register their attendance daily. The fingerprints of all employees have been uploaded in the system. The fingerprint-specific system also checks registration of proxy attendance.

The biometric devices will be operated from the main server located at the IT department. “We will send attendance report of each department to the heads concerned everyday so they can know the regularity/ punctuality of their subordinates,” Vatnal said, and added that the new system has cost KUD around Rs 5 lakh.

Source: Biometrics Attendance System

February 21, 2011

Biometric Fingerprint Reader as Valuable Technological Tool

Technological advancement is the planet over in our day to day life starting from our home to office. Everyone is aware of their home appliance advancement, considering the office, now in this current century there is no need to maintain the pile of ID anymore to maintain the records of workers log. We can store the detail of time constraints even electronically which even saves sere wastage of time. Just a portable device made of fabric can be hung up somewhere and a beep sound easily audible whenever it senses a skin touch. Even it can easily admit the frauds and can alarm the other ones. The device is so small that it can be full or stirred to any place according to our convenience. Technically this device normally plotted with fuzzy logic, when a person is allowed to touch the thin dinghy plate for once this device maps each and every detail of the person’s touch, the various mapping contains the length and size by the side of with some other detail which is necessary for the detection of the individual, it depends on the programming of how it has been plotted.Biometric fingerprint reader has been establish out by an US citizen for office purpose so that everything could be doneautomatically as because time and cash both are valuable like nothing else. This discovery became so very helpful as well as essential that throughout the globe human beings started adapting the same. Taking consideration of India why should India live behind. India adapted this system and very soon throughout the country it gained its popularity for its usefulness. Nowadays it is an established device which is not only used in the office but also it is used at home, where people use it for multiple purposes.

PURPOSES :OFFICE : In office, it is generally used to store the details of theattendance of the employees, it also store the details of the break timings of variousemployee.

That is, instead of by a huge pile of ID this fiddle with print device does the work. Since details are stored in terms of electronic means therefore it saves the precious time as well as it saves from fraud. These keeps the records everlastingly in the computerso that any time you want to have a look you can always get it. 

HOME : In home, if someone want to keep a track of log that is, who is coming, when is coming, also in foreign it is used as a security like, in order to enter into the house one needs to scan the fiddle with if the device is plotted by the concerned fiddle with then only the person would be allowed to enter into the place or else it is generally attached with the security alarm so when the device does not find a match it blows the security alarm, thus it prevents the attack of burglars.

This rate has been full into adaption by our country also, after all why to stay behind, nowadays few Indian Jails also by this rate as because tracking every employee individually becomes very tedious so they are electronically protected. Thus, this device is proving very beneficial in technological, mechanical and user friendly point of view.

February 15, 2011

Facebook uses biometrics on photo images

Filed under: Access Control, Bangalore Biometrics, Biometrics, world — secuwatch @ 5:10 am

Social networking giant Facebook is taking the plunge into using facial recognition-based biometrics in a bid to make it easier for users of the site to tag their photos.

In a blog by one of the company’s engineers, Justin Mitchell, it was revealed that every day, people add more than 100 million tags to photos on Facebook. They do this because it’s an easy way to share photos and memories.

Mitchell says in his blog that while tags are an essential tool for sharing important moments, many people find tagging photos a chore.

Mitchell said that since October, the company has been working to make this process easier. First Facebook added group tagging, so users can type one name and apply it to multiple photos of the same person. Now Facebook is announcing tag suggestions, which will make tagging multiple photos even more convenient.

The new systems will use face recognition software – similar to that found in many photo editing tools – to match new photos to other photos a person is tagged in. Facebook then groups similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggests the name of the friend in the photos.

Users can disable suggested tags in their Privacy Settings, if so desired.

The feature will be debuting tag suggestions to users in the United States over the next few weeks.


January 19, 2011

eSSL Biometrics keeps mid-day meal scheme on track

A simple use of technology has helped streamline gross misuse of funds in government’s mid-day meal programme in government primary schools. Not just the meals; the inexpensive biometric device using general packet radio service (GPRS) technology developed by a Bengaluru-based techie has also come in handy to check teachers’ attendance in these schools and more importantly, the drop-out rate of students, which is rampant and often ignored by school authorities for various reasons.

A pilot project taken up by Bengaluru-based software entrepreneur — Mallikarjun Patil in a village school – Government Composite High School in Nagenahalli, Mysore taluk — has done wonders in controlling pilferage of food grains meant for mid-day meals and saved government lakhs of rupees. Ms G. Satyavathi, chief executive officer, Zilla Panchayat, Mysore taluk had sanctioned permission for the unique project.

“I had heard about the rampant misuse of government funds in the mid-day meal programme. I wondered how technology could be used to help reduce the pilferage and improve school administration in general. I devised a battery-operated biometric gadget using GPRS technology but I needed to conduct a field test to check its functioning.

I found this village school, which is 10 km from Mysore and I approached Ms Satyavathi, chief executive officer, Zilla Panchayat, Mysore taluk for permission. The pilot was launched in November last year with her support,” said Mr Patil. The biometric device has been tailor-made for remote villages, where power supply and net work connectivity are poor.

“The GPRS technology comes in handy to push the data from remote locations to the server in Bengaluru. We have also created various web reports, which have brought in greater transparency and has cut down on the paper work,” said Mr. Patil. He added that hardware is supplied by eSSL— a hardware firm in Bengaluru.

Deccan Chronicle visited the Government School in Nagenhalli to see how the device works.
The portable biometric device has a stored data of finger prints of all the students – from primary section to the high school and when they come to school at around 9 am they have to punch the machine to record attendance. Even the teachers including the heads of the institution have to record their attendance.

By 10 am Mr Patil gets the information on how many children have turned up for the day and he then sends an SMS to the head cook of the school on the amount of rice, lentils and vegetables she should use for the day. The names of regular absentees are sent to the head master — Rajendracharya and head mistress H. Hemaksha so that they can visit the child’s home and draw her/him back to school.

“The Deputy Director of Primary Education and department heads are kept in the loop on the teachers’ attendance. The web-based system also allows government to analyse the database on boy-girl ratio; caste and annual income of parents with the use of graphs and bar charts,” said Mr. Patil.

The Revenue Secretary, Rajiv Chawla, impressed with the project said that it’s a “foolproof method to check pilferage of food grains; students and teachers attendance. It’s a simple, inexpensive multi-purpose device, which has controlled many irregularities in government run primary schools; from the mid-day meal programme to checking teacher absenteeism and drop out rate of children,” said Mr. Chawla.

eSSL Mid Day Meal Article

August 12, 2008

Leading player in Attendance, Access, CCTV, Fire Safety Solutions industry



September 23, 2007

Biometric Fingerprint Time Clocks

Buddy punching—not the violent connotation, but equally malicious and punishable under most corporate guidelines on proper employee behavior—is the practice of cheating time clocks by punching in the attendance card or swiping the ID of a co-worker in his absence.

Attendance monitoring used to mean endless paperwork, sifting though documents and manual computation. That has changed with the onslaught of biometric fingerprint time clocks that have high-tech applications but simple implementation.

There are several brands in the market, and they offer basically the same features, although some may be a bit more sophisticated (they allow several program schemes adaptable per employee specifications). A device can be programmed to quickly identify special work-schedule arrangements made for certain employees, for example.

A biometric fingerprint time clock generally is composed of three major components that make it work: scanner (on which one places a finger for the print to be scanned); software (that transforms the scanned information into digital format); and database (where authorized fingerprints are stored in digital format).

Biometric fingerprint time clocks may be installed on each side of a door to facilitate close monitoring of employee ins and outs. The biometric clock is wired into the door latch, allowing it to mechanically open and shut it. But if it’s just attendance monitoring you desire, one unit for your whole office may suffice. A device is capable of storing large amounts of data.

Once installed, you will have to get each employee to register a fingerprint. You may need to have your IT (information technology) employees help you with this. They will create a master list of names and their corresponding fingerprints. Additional programming is needed for flexi-time employees who do not subscribe to the general work-schedule hours.

After completing the database, the device ready. Employees will only need to put a finger on the scanning interface of the time clock. The print will be processed, and if it matches an image stored in the database, the door will open mechanically. If not, access will be denied; there’s no prying open the door or getting around the system.


September 15, 2007

UK Requires Compulsory Fingerprints from Visa Applicants

BANGALORE: Every person seeking to enter the UK from countries outside the European Union, including India, will be fingerprinted prior to being issued a visa, if a proposed law that aims to tighten UK’s borders is passed by British MPs.

A Bill stipulating this and other immigration reforms — the UK Border Bill — is pending before the British Parliament and there’s an urgency now to clear it after the botched terror strikes in London and Glasgow involving foreign nationals.

When it’s in place, the fingerprint of anyone seeking to enter the UK — for work or as a tourist — will be scanned at visa issuing offices and put through criminal/terrorist databases, before clearance.

“UK has introduced biometric fingerprinting as identification in passports to make immigration at entry points easy. Now, plans are to extend it to those applying for visas,” sources said. But there is a silver lining: There has been no knee-jerk reaction or official slowdown on Indian citizens getting UK visas, so far.

Despite UK PM Gordon Brown’s statements over background checks, a British high commission source said: “No changes have been brought in following the recent events in the UK.” On average, 700 to 1,000 visa applications from India are being processed and cleared every day.

Sources said if the applicant has the specified documents outlining purpose of travel, financial position of the person/sponsor and so on, there is no need for even a personal interview for visa. In most cases, if documents are in order, the visa is issued.


UK to outsource biometric visa checks to Mumbai

The UK is to outsource visa application checks “wherever there is an outsource partner”, following trials in its largest visa posts in Mumbai, Delhi and Islamabad. This process, which will be implemented alongside the introduction of biometrics for all visa applications, is intended to cover at least 60 per cent of an annual total of 2.5 million applications by 2008, saving £3.7 million via a reduction of “46 staff years per year”.

The cunning outsourcing plan by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which handles overseas visa applications, will be implemented as the UK Passport Office tightens security via the introduction of biometrics and by requiring new (and subsequently all) passport applicants attend a personal interview. Which could, one speculates, result in a country it was a hell of a lot easier to get into than out of, but the outsourcing partners will, we feel sure, be thoroughly vetted.

The process, the FCO tells us, “cost just £35,000 to develop” (did they outsource this too?) and allows UK visa staff to advise the outsourcing partner what information is needed. The partner then collects this from the application, puts it into electronic format and passes it on to the British Mission. As biometrics are rolled out, outsourcing partners are likely to deal with this too. “From our experience of fingerprinting in a variety of posts in East Africa,” says the FCO, “we have learned that we can safely scan fingerprints within our outsourced operations.”

The decision to fingerprint all visa applicants was taken after “the success of the Colombo fingerprinting trial in 2003”, which as we noted at the time was so ‘successful that it caught a maximum of xxx fraudsters. In common with other UK Government departments, the FCO claims that the UK “is committed by EU regulations to introducing biometrics into the worldwide visa operation” – as far as the FCO is concerned this is sort of, nearly true, but not quite, and the FCO’s current visa plans are rather different from what it will have to do if it ever really is “committed by EU regulations”.

The EU’s visa plans aren’t directly connected to its biometric passports ones, nor do they directly connect to the FCO ones. European ministers intended to have a blueprint for the introduction of biometric visas in place by the end of last year, but the discovery that the plans didn’t work put things up in the air. Ministers still intend to go ahead with biometric visas, and a trial of a separate visa card is commencing, but as far as we’re aware the European Parliament hasn’t yet been blackmailed into rubber-stamping a firmed-up scheme.

That however is neither here nor there as far as what the FCO is doing is concerned. The European system is intended to be part of the Schengen II/Visa Information System database network, with the biometric visa itself available for checking via standard border control equipment on entry to the EU. The FCO system fingerprints visa applicants in order to give the UK the capability to check for duplicate applications. The EU system means the subject of the visa carries their biometric data with them, whereas the UK’s doesn’t. If the UK is to participate in the EU system then the FCO will have to upgrade (if that’s the word) its plans and issue whatever the EU decides on, either a sticker in the passport or a separate card, probably the latter.

The FCO’s claim to be committed by regulations therefore appears to be based on its pretending that the UK is a signatory to Schengen when it really isn’t. The FCO explains the Schengen position here, so we don’t have to, but the UK’s attitude to Schengen can probably best be summed up as one of being in for the bits we like, but out for the bits we don’t. How ‘in’ we are on this one might turn out to be less clear than is immediately apparent.

Matters will be further complicated if the UK ID scheme flies. Those resident in the UK for over three months will be required to register for a card, so might this process take place via an overseas office on the granting of visas for over three months? How, if at all, will the current/planned FCO system intersect with the ID scheme, or with Europe’s VIS or a European ID card for non-EU residents?

The FCO claims it will cost £77 million to handle 2.5 million biometric visa applications, and our anonymous tipster for this story suggests this might imply a one-off cost of around £1.8 billion for biometric capture of the entire UK, but we’re not so sure. It’s not clear how much of the FCO cost is capital investment or the annual cost of the system, and what the FCO is planning isn’t necessarily comparable to the Home Office’s ID plans. Unless the FCO intends to maintain its own system in splendid, stripped-down isolation, however, we’d expect the actual cost to climb as the need for compatibility with the other systems increases.

Foreign Minister Jack Straw did not however like the ID scheme in the first place, so may not be willing to bust a gut to keep step with it now, particularly given heartening news that Ireland (another non-Schengen country) may junk biometric passports, and that the US might be about to conclude that biometric passports aren’t nearly as much fun as it initially thought.


September 13, 2007

40,000 Schools fingerprint system project – India

“40,000 Schools fingerprint system pilot project (eSSL) inauguration by Hon. Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi”













The Gujarat state government has initiated a pilot project to ensure full enrolment of all eligible students and to reduce dropout rate in primary schools.

The pilot project covers 680 primary schools, 70 Cluster Resource Centres (CRCs) and 4 Block Resources Centres (BRCs) in Narmada district, one of the most backward districts of Gujarat having predominant tribal population and low literacy. It will cover around 2,508 teachers and 76,000 students.

The pilots being implemented by Bangalore based enterprise Software Solutions Lab (ESSL).

In 2003, Gujarat Government had launched “Shala Praveshotsav” (Enrolment Drive) and “Kanya Kelavani Rath” (Girl Child Education Campaign), which has been very successful and is achieving full enrolment of all the eligible students.

However, while the extent of coverage of primary education in the state has been satisfactory, the high rate of dropout is a matter of serious concern.

Having achieved the successful enrolment, the challenge facing the Government is to improve retention and reduce the dropout.

It was discovered that apart from socio-economic reasons, absenteeism of teachers, particularly in tribal areas and remote villages is one of the most important reasons for high dropout rates,

“ All noble initiatives of the State Government lose effectiveness and seriousness, when teachers remain absent without due permission, for a long period. It was, therefore, urgently needed to have a strong and reliable mechanism to monitor attendance of teachers and students,” said a senior official.

A standalone fingerprint biometric machine with external uninterrupted power supply up to 12 hours will be installed in each primary school for recoding attendance of teachers as well as students. At the end of the month, the attendance data is transported to the taluka (Block) HQ in a portable memory device like a pen drive. This attendance data is processed with the help of a software application for getting pay rolls of teachers and other various reports.

The pilot project has great scope of further expansion depending upon its success in Narmada district. The pilot model of biometric attendance system is most likely to be replicated in all other districts of Gujarat if it is tested successfully in district like Narmada.

The expanded project is expected to cover around 40,000 schools, which are to be covered, in a phased manner, in the coming 2-3 years. 

Lift a Finger(print) to Track Employee Time

Automate hourly paid employee timekeeping with eSSL Biometric Time and Attendance System.

“Eliminate Buddy Punching” 

RFID based time and attendance systems have a big loophole: buddy punching. For example: Ram Come Lately, delayed on his way to work, can ask fellow employee Sunil Buddy to swipe Lately’s RFID employee badge through the time clock. The time clock will faithfully record Lately’s attendance before he arrives, and the employer will pay Lately for time that he didn’t work..

Biometric time systems eliminate buddy punching because they are inextricably linked to the employee, not to a token such as an employee badge or a time card.

eSSL eBiome time clock

The eSSL  eBiome time clock is a wall-mountable box with a optical fingerprint scanner, a monochrome backlit four-line LCD, and a numeric keypad with five menu-control buttons. The clock can be directly hooked up to a PC using a serial port, USB connection, or (the way I tested it) connected to a network via ethernet.

Once eSSL eBiome is installed, operations are fairly straightforward. You set up new employees using the eBiome software on the PC. Their fingerprints are then scanned and enrolled using a password-protected administration menu on the eBiome time clock.

“Easy Time Tracking”

The timekeeping process is simplicity itself. To record the start of work, an employee rests the enrolled finger on the eBiome time clock’s fingerprint sensor until it’s recognized. This requires just a second or two and is acknowledged with both a message on the display and an audio tone. To sign out from work, the employee repeats the fingerprint scan.

eSSL Logo - enterprise Software Solutions Lab

Is the eSSL eBiome Biometric Time and Attendance System worth it?

It’s certainly faster and more efficient to use than paper-based manual time tracking systems, and it’s probably more accurate than nonbiometric time systems. If you have five or more hourly paid employees, the system is cost-effective. While the ease of installation and the quality of documentation could be improved, once set up the system is simple enough to use–and it can save your business money by tracking time automatically and accurately.

August 29, 2007

Andhra Bank gives thumbs up to biometric ATMs


Capitalising on one of the most fool-proof identification marks (the thumb impression), Hyderabad-based Andhra Bank is looking at rolling out more biometric-based ATMs.

“A thumb impression can’t be copied or stolen and is highly individualistic. It thus forms a good basis for us to launch ATMs using biometrics,” said Andhra Bank CMD K Ramakrishnan.

Mr Ramakrishnan said the bank intended to have as many as 150 biometric ATMs in place during the next fiscal. The bank has already having three biometric ATMs

“Our studies have revealed it is not just the rural/semi-urban branches where such biometric ATMs would be needed but even our customers in metro/urban centres have evinced interest in such machines,” he added.

He said that the cost of such a roll-out (of biometric ATMs) would be low given the decreasing price of hardware and ATMs.

Another area of focus was on mobile ATMs, Mr Ramakrishnan said. The bank was open to having more such mobile ATMs which double as mobile branches besides offering customers the facility of using their debit/ATM cards at the ATMs installed in these mobile vans.

Andhra Bank which ended (as of December 31, 2006) with a total business of Rs 61,689 crore was hopeful of ending the current fiscal with a volume of Rs 67,000 crore comprising Rs 39,000 crore of deposits and Rs 28,000 crore of advances. On credit cards, Mr Ramakrishnan said the bank was drawing up plans to issue more credit cards and was keen to tap its existing customer base.

“With a monthly interest of 1.8% to 2% Andhra Bank’s credit cards are most competitively placed compared with its peers. Our monthly outstanding card portfolio ranges anywhere between Rs 140 crore to Rs 180 crore,” he added.

Although Andhra Bank is one of the pioneers in the Indian credit card market, its credit card base is pegged around 1.5 million cards compared with 2.23 million debit/ATM cards.

He said that while credit cards was a key asset segment, the bank was keen to focus on areas such as priority sector lending, agri and education loans. Andhra Bank’s net non-performing assets stood at 0.44% as of December 31, 2006.

Biometrics India – E-passports

The Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, Shri E. Ahamed informed the Lok Sabha today in a written reply to a question that the Government have decided to introduce e-passports, also known as bio-metric passports, initially for diplomats and officials as a pilot project by the end of 2007. Based on the experience gained from this pilot project, it is proposed to start issuance of e-passports in the ordinary category by the end of 2008. A Technical Committee has been constituted to finalise the technical specifications of the e-passports and this matter is under examination.The cost of converting ordinary into bio-metric passports will be worked out on the basis of the technical specifications that are finalised.

The Government have been continually taking a number of steps to bring about more transparency in Passport Offices. These include computerisation of all Passport Offices, introduction of on-line registration, tele-enquiry, passport adalats, strengthening of grievance redressal mechanism, etc. The National Institute of Smart Government (NISG), Hyderabad has prepared a comprehensive study on passport issuance system. The implementation of this report will, inter alia, enhance further transparency in the functioning of Passport Offices.

Source: Government of India Press Information Bureau

August 28, 2007

Biometric cash machines bring joy


Mahendra Sahni

Mahendra Sahni can now collect his money without wasting time [Pics: Prashant Ravi]

These days Mahendra Sahni, a daily wage worker in India’s most backward state of Bihar, struts up to a gleaming new cash machine in his village to withdraw his hard earned money.

The middle-aged, illiterate fish farmer from Vaishali district makes about 2,000 rupees a month ($44).

For years he used to waste nearly a day getting to the bank and queuing up to get his wages.

Now, when he inserts a cash card into the machine, he is greeted with an voice instruction in Hindi: “Please put your thumb on the specified space.”

When he does that, crisp currency notes roll out of the machine with the voice saying, “Your cash is ready. Please accept it.”

Sahni and 14 other poor daily wage workers from Vaishaligarh and neighbouring areas are among the first villagers in Bihar to have access to biometric cash machines to withdraw their money.

“This shows how science has made progress and can be used for poor village people like us,” says Sahni.

The biometric cash machines are custom-made for people who cannot read or write and use features like fingerprint verification and voice guided animated screens and easy navigation.

The federal government has now announced that everybody in Vaishali employed under its ambitious new National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme will get their wages through these new cash machines.

The scheme promises some 60 million households in India a level of financial protection through guaranteed work or unemployment benefit.

Banking made easy

For the moment, the cash machine run by the state-run Central Bank of India, is targeting some 210 daily wage workers in the area.

“It is basically for poor workers like Sahni who cannot read or write their names. Banking for them will become easy with these cash machines,” says the bank’s local manager Pranay Kumar.

Biometric cash machine in Vaishali, Bihar

Biometric cash machines promise to change banking in rural India

The biometric cash machines work through a series of processes.

First, the fingerprint of an account holder is captured through a scanner at the time of the opening of the account.

A template is created for each fingerprint and stored in the cash card given to the customer.

When Sahni goes to the cash machine and inserts the cash card, his fingerprint is captured using an inbuilt scanner and it is matched with the impression stored in the cash card.

Central Bank’s executive director K Subramanyam says biometric devices will go a long way in offering banking services in India’s villages where 70% of its people live.

Payment through cash machines will also protect the workers from local contractors who routinely extract a cut from their wages in return of getting them on the list of government employment schemes.

For the moment, Sahni and his neighbours are happy to have discovered a hassle-free way of withdrawing their meagre savings.

The entire procedure of cycling to the branch and going through the paperwork with help from others and waiting in the queue for the money took up valuable work time.

The other day, he picked up 1,000 rupees in five minutes flat from the cash machine and cycled back home to begin work again.

“Withdrawing money couldn’t be a better experience,” he says.

August 25, 2007

Biometric IDs for Slum Dwellers – Biometrics Fingerprint solution in Maharastra Mumbai Pune India


Land sharks in this city don’t spare even slum dwellers it seems…

Which explains why the Maharashtra government has decided to bring in a biometric ID system specially for slum dwellers, to protect them from the greedy bunch.

Reportedly, the identification system is meant for only those slum dwellers in Mumbai, who come under the purview of the state-sponsored slum re-development project.

The government has taken the decision subsequent to receiving several complaints that alleged slum dwellers being enticed into giving up their property to real estate developers, looking to start illegal construction on these plots of land.

Swadhin Kshatriya, Principal Secretary of the State Housing Department, said, “The move to bring in the biometric identification system comes in the wake of several cases filed by slum dwellers, who have complained that their plots are being developed without their consent.”

“Initially, the identification process will be introduced in schemes approved by the state Slum Re-development Authority (SRA). This will help us reduce the number of complaints to a great extent,” Kshatriya said.

Under the biometric ID system, a unique number will be created for each beneficiary. And the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has reportedly already started digitizing city maps to ascertain the authenticity of slum dwellers’ claims for accomodation under the SRA scheme.

In future, the biometric system will be introduced for the Dharavi Redevelopment Scheme, and redevelopment of BDD ‘chawls’ spread across South Central Mumbai.

August 24, 2007

Biometrics in 40,000 Schools of India


Project Titled : “Fingerprint Biometric Attendance System for Primary Schools in Narmada District (Gujarat)”.

Brief Description:

Supply, installation and commissioning of 600 numbers of standalone Fingerprint Biometric Machines in various primary schools in Narmada District (Gujarat)

Tender Ref.: DPN/FBAS/01/2006

District Panchayat – Narmada
Jilla Panchayat Bhawan-Narmada,
Near Karjan Irrigation Project Office,
Rajpipla, Dist. Narmada (Gujarat) 393 145


To ensure full enrolment of all eligible students and to reduce drop-out rate in primary education, Government of Gujarat launched “Shala Praveshotsav” (Enrolment Drive) and “Kanya Kelavani Rath” (Girl Chid Education Campaign) from the year 2003. This programme has been very successful and is achieving full enrolment of all the eligible students. 

The extent of coverage of primary education in the state has been satisfactory but high rate of drop-out is a matter of serious concern. In the last three years, the Primary Education Department of Government of Gujarat has introduced several schemes to address the problem of drop-outs.

While lots of initiatives are being taken to improve primary education, it is equally important to sustain and deepen these reforms. After the success of enrolment drives with the achievement of full enrolment, the challenge now is to improve retention and reduce the drop-out.

Apart from socio-economic reasons, absenteeism of teachers, particularly in tribal areas and remote villages is one of the most important reasons for high dropout rates. All noble initiatives of the State Government lose effectiveness and seriousness, when teachers remain absent without due permission, for a long period. Above entioned areas, which are also the areas of lowest female literacy rates are suffering a lot because of this problem. It is urgently needed to have a strong and reliable mechanism to monitor attendance of teachers and students.

In order to have strict watch on the attendance of the teachers and the students, a Fingerprint Biometric School Attendance System was proposed for Narmada District. Government of Gujarat has accepted the proposal and has sanctioned a pilot project of a Fingerprint Biometric Attendance System for all primary schools in Narmada District to be implemented by the District Panchayat – Narmada (Rajpipla). After implementation, Narmada probably will become the first district in the country to cover all primary schools by a Fingerprint Biometric Attendance System.

Pilot Project:

The pilot project is planned to cover 680 primary schools, 70 Cluster Resource Centres (CRCs) and 4 Block Resources Centres (BRCs) in Narmada District. It will cover around 2508 teachers and 76,000 students. A stand alone fingerprint biometric machine with external un-interrupted power supply upto 12 hours will be installed in each primary school for recording attendance of teachers as well as students. At the end of the month, the attendance data will be transported to the taluka (Block) HQ in a portable memory device like a pen drive. This attendance data will be processed with the help of a software application for getting pay rolls of teachers and other various reports.

The pilot project has a great scope of further expansion depending upon its success in Narmada district. Narmada district is one of the most backward districts of Gujarat having predominant tribal population and low literacy indicators. The pilot model of biometric attendance system is most likely to be replicated in all other districts of Gujarat if it is tested successful in a district like Narmada. The expanded project is expected to cover around 40,000 schools, which are to be covered, in a phased manner, in the coming 2-3 years.

Pilot Project Implementation:

As an implementing agency District Panchayat – Narmada (Rajpipla) has decided that the procurement of the standalone Fingerprint Biometric Machines (FBMs) along with accessories would be through National Competitive Bidding while the software application would be developed by the NIC-Gujarat. To carry out this objective, District Panchayat – Narmada proposes to finalise a rate contract with only manufacturers of Fingerprint Biometric Machines (FBMs) in India for supply, installation and commissioning of standalone FBMs as per specifications given in the tender document.

Card-Based Systems and Biometric Applications to Drive Security Markets


Heightened concerns over security along with liberalization and strong economic growth have driven the Asia Pacific region toward high-end electronic access control systems in recent years.

The sheer size of the market combined with low penetration levels make for huge market potential, and the advent of IP-based surveillance systems, the development of property sector in Asia acific, and fewer biometrics regulatory issues in Asia Pacific as compared to other markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom are all expected to contribute to the future growth of electronic access control systems (EACS) in the region, said a new analysis from Frost and Sullivan.

The analysis on Electronic Access Control Systems Market in Selected APAC Countries, revealed that revenues in this market totaled $0.50 billion in 2006, and are likely to reach $1.34 billion in 2013.

“EACS have been growing in importance since the last ten years and the primary reasons for this are the sophistication and increased security offered by them and also the flexibility in their deployment that provides numerous reconfiguring options to customers,” said Frost & Sullivan Analysts Parul Oswal and Navin Rajendra. “Additionally, the overriding need to reduce fraud across government and commercial settings is boosting the demand for EACS. Both governments and corporate are deploying access control technology for applications ranging from time and attendance to physical access.”

Among EACS product types, keypads presently account for the highest revenue percent share in the EACS markets of countries examined in this study. However, this is likely to change by 2013, with some countries expected to leapfrog keypads and go to card-based or biometrics-based technologies that provide higher security.

“On the other hand access cards, comprising proximity and contactless, are likely to experience increased adoption rates, and their share is expected to increase from 32.6 percent in 2008 to almost 60.0 percent by 2013,” said Oswal. “Demand for biometrics is also likely to increase due to technology advancement, increasing concerns over security and the growing urgency to catch up with the western markets.”

Notwithstanding these positives, high investment and the cost of integration of the technology with the existing backend system are likely to be key restraints for the markets growth. Moreover, as there are no local integrators in the Asia Pacific region, there is a dearth of quality integration services, leading to poor market penetration for many technologies.

“Employee ID projects in private organizations do not enjoy the same economies of scale as government projects, due to the lower rate of card shipments, leading to an increased cost of deployment,” she said. “Hence, the resultant ROI for medium-sized companies with a few tens of thousands of employees is relatively low.”

Overall, market growth is expected to be driven primarily by cards-based systems and biometric applications. Offering competitive prices to end users is likely to be a key success factor due to increasing competition from lower cost providers, especially those from China and Taiwan.

A fingerprint for the future


Never underestimate the importance of a one-millimeter piece of flesh. It matters if you are going to jail, receiving rations, or late to work. It matters while going to the temple, trading in the market or flying to the US. The minute ridges of skin that make up your fingerprint are set to be among your most precious possessions. Biometric solutions are entering public life.

Biometrics is the science of identifying a person using some unique physical characteristic. There are five basic ways to identify humans through biometric technology: fingerprint, voiceprint, retina/iris scan, hand geometry and facial recognition. Of these, the fingerprint is the most popular. It’s easy to use and reliable, with an average accuracy of 98%.

Of course, there are many things that could reduce the accuracy of a print. Like a hand covered in dust. Or oil. Or sandalwood. That’s what Bartronics was up against when it developed the largest biometric system in the world for the temples of Tirupati and Tirumala. With roughly 4,000 pilgrims arriving daily, and over one lakh during festivals, they had to develop a system of crowd control that could take on the numbers – and the puja powder.

Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (the organisation that runs the temples) first worked with Bartronics four years ago to help pilgrims avoid waiting all day for their chance to enter. “When I visit the temple, I’m not sure when I will see the Lord,” says Bhanu Prakash, vice-president (operations and projects) of Bartronics. They initially developed a system of bar codes on taffeta wristbands. But these were hard to stock, the waste was not biodegradable, and they suspected people were selling bands with better timings. A biometric system with touchless fingerprint scanning became the answer to their prayers.

Though the high-tech security and access restriction that biometric solutions provide may seem a strange brew when mixed with religion, it is a sign that the technology is moving beyond top-secret places like military installations. The biometrics market in India has moved up from about $1 million three years ago to $2.5 million-3 million in 2003. Indeed, biometrics is now cropping up in all sorts of unlikely areas.

Chandrababu Naidu’s government in Andhra Pradesh uses biometrics and smart cards for security. Various state, police and city offices in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use fingerprint clock-in systems for workers, which ensures both accurate paycheques and punctual employees. The UN Refugee Association recently hauled an iris scanner to Pakistan to prevent locals posing as Afghan refugees from receiving aid disbursements. Kerala issued fingerprint-enabled ration cards. And the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) recently created a central market database called Mapin. Sebi requires biometric information (among other things) from any market intermediary in order to monitor market transactions and provide transparency. The database will eventually cover everyone involved, including retail investors.

But perhaps the most far-reaching use of biometrics in India will start in the next few weeks. The Indian Census, with the support of the Central government, will roll out its National ID Card pilot programme in 13 districts of 13 states. The mundane information, like name, date of birth, etc., has already been collected from the pilot’s three million participants. Now each village in the 13 districts will be visited by a fingerprint scanner and a camera for picture identification. The fingerprint data will be encoded in smart cards, which will serve as permanent national IDs.

“We are making this facility available to people at their doorsteps, literally,” says J.K. Banthia, Census commissioner and registrar general. Census employees will knock on doors and get people to registration facilities, which will fingerprint about 150 persons a day. They hope to put an ID that will be linked to all government databases – pensions, healthcare, rations, land records et al -in the hands of every Indian.

Having such a card would not only make governance easier, it would also lift the domestic biometric industry. Though Banthia does not discuss costs, he believes the project will be “a big boost to the IT sector as a whole”. Bartronics’ Prakash says the industry is expecting a windfall from the national ID plan. “Everybody (in the biometrics business) is trying to get contracts and tie up with companies abroad,” he says.

Waiting for God: Fingerprint scanning quickens entry into a Tirupati temple

Domestic companies need to have good contacts abroad, as no one in India is capable of producing the core technology – the scanning apparatus – yet. This is because it requires huge investments and specialist expertise. Dheeraj Kumar of BioEnable, an Indian firm that develops and manufactures non-core hardware and software for biometric systems, says: “There are some things which we need, and we weave the system around them.” Mumbai-based biometrics firm Jaypeetex has tied up with US-based Bioscript to get the core technology. And while the US, Europe and Japan are still the sources for most core technology, companies in Taiwan and Korea are also starting to manufacture the technology.

Biometrics At Your Desktop?

In 2000, Frost & Sullivan found the size of the Indian biometrics market was just 6% of the total electronic access control (EAC) market then. But it was also projected as the fastest growing EAC market segment: Frost & Sullivan expected it to touch $2.5 million-3 million by end 2003. That figure, say industry folk, has been reached. About 20 companies are involved in biometrics in India now. Though the market is still very open, companies like Jaypeetex, Datamatics, Zicom and Johnson Controls are leaders.

In the rest of the world, the market is rising, but isn’t reaching any lofty heights. There is no identifiable leader; the main players are NEC, Infineon, Fujitsu MicroElectornics, Atmel and Iridian, to name a few. According to Acuity Market Intelligence, a US company that publishes regular biometrics reports, the post 9/11 projections for the industry were overblown. Having set global revenues targets between $500 million and $1 billion by 2003 for the core biometrics technology (which accounts for around one-fourth of the entire biometrics market), the actual 2003 numbers were just $240 million-400 million. One reason for the lag is that pro-privacy groups have lobbied hard against the use of biometrics in public spheres. Another was the technology’s high cost.

But now, costs are coming down world-wide. When Girish Podar started Jaypeetex back in 1994, he sold fingerprint scanning devices for over Rs 2 lakh. Now, he sells working devices with fingerprint scanners for Rs 25,000. This price includes an intelligent processor, memory – the works. Also, the 100%-plus tax on imported technology is down to around 30%. Face and iris scanners are still expensive, with prices above Rs 1 lakh.

Iris recognition is expensive and inconvenient, but it’s the most accurate, measuring more than 250 distinct features. Fingerprint scanning captures 40-60. Finger scanning has several methods such as optical, ultrasound and silicon sensors, which work in different ways. Atmel’s silicon sensor chip, for example, measures temperature differences between ridges of the fingertip.

Though higher growth is expected in the physical security sector, like at airports and offices, the logical security sector is expected to follow. Personal biometric product prices are down, and more fingerprint scanners are being added to keyboards, mice and mobile phones for those who seek extra security. Some experts say that some predict the technology will be included in every PC shipped out after 2005. A stand-alone personal biometric solution made and sold in the US costs $120. A personal iris scanner costs $250.

Brave New World

Police have used fingerprints to track the bad guys for a century, but what happens to data collected from lawful citizens? In the US, new immigration laws require foreigners who enter the country to get a fingerprint scan. It’s part of the work of the Department of Homeland Security, which recently awarded a $10-million contract for the technology. The department wants to collect as much information about people as possible, and use computer algorithms and human analysis to detect potential criminal or terrorist activity. Biometric technology has been proposed (some claim it is already being used) to identify and track individuals from a distance through technologies like face recognition or gait recognition. Some members of the international community, as well as many US citizens, feel these programmes invade privacy.
In India, biometric technology has not created a stir yet. Officials acknowledge the technology’s uses in security and the privacy issues they could throw up, but are hesitant to talk about them in detail. Instead, they talk of the benefits.

US Homeland Security head Tom Ridge (C) at a US airport: Getting the fingerprint

Census commissioner Banthia says: “Obviously, security will be one of the issues, but not the theme.” V.R. Narasimhan, the senior vice-president of the National Securities Depository (which is implementing Mapin for Sebi), says: “The system can be used for different purposes, depending upon the user’s imagination.” However, he wants to wait and see the Mapin system in place and working before he starts looking at any other uses.

Both men stress that the technology would actually improve personal security by tracking and preventing fraud, both in the markets and in the government sphere. “It should make life easy for the people…. The interaction should be made transparent,” Banthia says. Narasimhan hopes that Mapin can curb illegal activities. The database would contain comprehensive information of market participants, which would be available online for anyone interested in checking out their intermediaries before they enter into transactions.

Jaypeetex’s Podar sees the potential for privacy problems on the horizon, though he thinks there are none at present. “For all applications, other than the really large ones, we do not store fingerprint images. We create simple ASCII files from the images and then discard the images.”

Then, there is the fear that the technology, especially fingerprinting, is not unbeatable. European papers reported that two German hackers have said they developed a technique using latex fingertip patches to defeat scanners without being detected by security cameras. Also, Japanese students say they can dupe some scanners using gelatin finger moulds, known as ‘gummy fingers’.

Yet the world is full of true believers like Podar, who sees biometrics changing the future. “If you are looking for a positive identification or verification of persons, this is the best technology,” he says. “God has given it to us for free, we just need to work on it.”

Thumb-Print Banking Takes India


CHENNAI, India — Banks and ATM machines are an unfamiliar sight in the rural countryside here, but the government hopes to change that with new technology that could ease the transition from cash to computers.

A pilot program will put 15 biometric ATMs at village kiosks in five districts across southern India. The machines are expected to serve about 100,000 workers who will use fingerprint scanners, rather than ATM cards and PINs, to obtain their funds.

Biometric ATMs are already in use in Colombia and a few locations in Japan, but haven’t caught on in much of the rest of the world. As a result, biometrics companies are watching the experiment closely as a potential watershed for the industry.

Nagaraj Mylandla, managing director of Financial Software and Systems, which helped design security protocol for the new system, said there are 35,000 non-biometric ATMs in India today. In three years the number of machines is expected to triple to more than 100,000, leaving a window of opportunity for suppliers to make the new technology standard issue for all new machines.

The increase will mean that just about every rural village and outpost will have access to the world’s financial backbone and, if the pilot program is successful, fingerprint identification could become standard, even for private bank transactions.

“Many banks here are keen on this idea of doing away with ATM cards,” said Sunil Udupa, CEO of AGS Infotech, the company supplying the first batch of ATMs to the five districts in India. “Whether it is practically possible is a very different question, but the interest is huge.”

Officials hope the plan will bring billions of rupees currently being held in private hands into the banking mainstream, and that it might even shelter the country’s poor from the ravages of inflation, theft and widespread corruption.

For example, some believe e-banking will help eliminate several layers of middlemen who manage, and often siphon off, government-allocated funds earmarked for low-income workers.

Under the current system, money gets sent from the government coffers and passes through the desks of dozens of bureaucrats and private contractors. Each tends to take a cut along the way so the money that reaches workers is usually only a fraction of what was allocated. Electronic banking will eliminate the middlemen, and provide a real increase in rural wages.

“This is really meant to cut down on corruption,” said Mylandla. “The whole structure is designed so that only the people at the end get the money. No one in between can steal it along the way.”

The program is not without its critics, however.

For example, privacy issues may arise in switching from user-generated numeric codes to bio-data. According to Mylandla and Udupi, law-enforcement agencies have already expressed interest in having access to the data for fraud prevention and to track known criminals through fingerprint transactions. It is unknown what other agencies might be able to see the data.

Another concern is that in some of the more crime-ridden areas of the country, fingerprint IDs could give rise to a new sort of crime where bandits chop off digits in order to withdraw cash from ATMs. Without a PIN code, a robber would be able to enter an account using a severed thumb.

In the last several years there have been several incidents of bandits chopping off hands to retrieve gold bangles from women’s wrists, and last year in Malaysia bandits cut off the thumb of a man driving a sports car in order to activate the biometric thumbprint ignition.

Those implementing the biometric machines in India scoff at the idea that this could become a problem.

“I have heard of instances where people get held up and gunpoint and told to enter their ATM pins with ordinary cards,” said Gopal Shekar, director of corporate communications at FSS. “The danger of violence is the same with biometric cards. Besides, the most anyone can withdraw in a day is 10,000 rupees ($230). Who would kill someone for so little?”

Whether that proves true or not, bringing poor farmers into the banking fold won’t be easy. The project will have to overcome communication barriers posed by the thousands of dialects in the country, not to mention illiteracy and unfamiliarity with computers.

The first prototype ATMs used PIN codes and written instructions, and failed miserably.

“The main problem is that most farmers are illiterate and only speak local dialects,” said Udupa. “The farmers couldn’t remember their PIN codes and didn’t understand the on-screen instructions. So we developed a fingerprint interface with audio and visual instructions that they could understand.”

Udupa thinks farmers are comfortable with fingerprint technology because they have already been introduced to other government projects that use biometrics. Bhoomi, a widely accepted land-record program in the state of Karnataka, uses fingerprints to verify owners of land records.

Biometric solution to avoid duplication of PAN cards

P Chidambaram

New Delhi: Concerned over increasing misuse of Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards, the Government is likely to introduce biometric solution so that no one can get a duplicate card. A joint Working Group in the Ministry of Finance has given its report after obtaining technical and commercial proposals from leading biometric solution providers, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour. “The report is under consideration at present,” the minister said. He also informed the House, that the number of persons suspected to have duplicate PANs are estimated to be 13,10,127 through out the country. The verification exercise as of August 10, 2007 has been completed in respect of 11,43,919 persons, out of which 10,18421 PAN cards have been found to be duplicate and have been deactivated. On the biometric solution, the Minister said “it was being considered so that no one could obtain duplicate card”. Replying to another question with regard to cloning of credit cards resulting in frauds, Chidambaram said: Out of millions of cards issued through out India only 127 instances were reported in 2006 and the amount involved was Rs 235.42 lakh. While in 2007, till June, 61 cases have come forward involving Rs 123.11 crore. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as a part of its supervisory process has been sensitising banks from time to time about common fraud prone areas, modus operandi and the measures to be taken by them to prevent or reduce the incidence of frauds in banks. Chidambaram, however, said that it was the responsibility of owner of a credit card to ensure that no body could misuse it. Asked whether any bank employee was involved in cloning of credit cards, the minister said no such instance has been reported. On the proposed unique identification card for multi purposes, Chidamabaram said: The Ministry of Home Affairs was examining the matter and had also launched a pilot project in the border areas before taking a final decision. (PTI)

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