The emergence of biometric technology signifies an increase in standards in efficiency, convenience and most importantly, security, writes Mike Cox, SA operations manager at RCG Systems.

Biometric technology involves identity authentication by examining physical and behavioural characteristics, such as fingerprint, face recognition or iris matching, in lieu of traditional keys and passwords.
Governments around the world are benefiting from the technology, ranging from enhanced security in hospitals to airport customs and prisons.
Biometrics can meet the requirement for tighter security while providing increased efficiency and convenience.
The Hong Kong SAR government introduced e-passport technology in February 2007 which contains the holder’s personal data and facial image in a contactless embedded chip in an e-passport. Similarly, anyone who is an ‘alien’ of the United States is required to apply for a digital biometric visa when visiting the country.
Both policies ensure smoother operations at customs. Customs officers instantly bring up the profile of the subject for identity verification. In non-government sectors such as airports (Zhuhai Airport, China) and prisons (Silverwater Prison, Australia), biometric systems have been installed at various locations for area restriction and access control.
But there are some concerns such as the possible misuse of personal biometric information. An Individual’s data is often stored in an ultra protected database, which is designed to avoid attacks by intruders.
The balance between convenience and privacy can be difficult. Advancing technologies along with the involvement of several government institutions can certainly improve the users’ confidence regarding privacy issues.
Research conducted by Unisys worldwide shows an overwhelming 70% of worldwide customers’ acceptance of biometric technology for identity verification purpose.
Among the group, 82% voted for biometric technology so as to avoid memorising a password. International Biometric Group estimate $3-billion annual biometric industry revenues this year (2007) and predicted that it will double to 7,4-billion by 2012 with a large proportion of this going to government.
RCG expects growing acceptance of biometrics.  In the information era, not only can an individual’s identity be protected using biometric technology, but there are endless possibilities for security and convenience.
Biometrics are difficult to duplicate, they provide an extra sense of identity and an additional layer of security and convenience.
An integrated security system involving surveillance cameras and facial recognition systems can be installed at the front entrance and outside key government buildings and alert internal staff of the profile of each person entering or walking past the premise.
JD Power & Associates has recently published research regarding Airport Satisfaction in North America. It shows a sharp rise in the percentage of travellers who are willing to minimise waiting by using an online boarding pass and self-service check-in procedure.
RCG has developed an airline VIP check-in solution that integrates RFID and multi-modal biometric technologies.
As a passenger arrives at the airport, their biometric information stored in their VIP card is scanned along with verifying their identity using facial and fingerprint scanning. Upon completion, an RFID tag boarding pass is issued, which also tracks passengers and reduces the possibility of boarding delays.
At immigration, the VIP card is compared against the data picked up by the facial recognition system as well as the immigration database. Should the system pick up an undesirable passenger, it will alert the authorities.