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Gambia to Introduce Biometric System

May 26, 2009, 4:39 AM

Preparations are far advanced for the introduction of biometrics in The Gambia, according to press release from the Immigration Department issued to this paper last Friday.

A biometrics system is essentially a pattern recognition system, which recognizes a user by determining the authenticity of a specific anatomical or behavioral characteristic possessed by the user.

According to the release the Immigration Department is embarking on the modernization of documents under its purview.

"At the completion of the modernization exercise, the Immigration Department would provide National Identity documents with Biometrics details," the release stated.

The release stated that the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in the next three months, will include the National Identity Card, Alien Cards and Residential Permits A & B.

"Thus, until the completion of the project, all of the aforementioned documents will be issued on an emergency basis," the release concluded.

Biometrics recognition, or biometrics, refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her anatomical (e.g., fingerprint, iris) or behavioral (e.g., signature) characteristics or traits. This method of identification offers several advantages over traditional methods involving ID cards (tokens) or PIN numbers (passwords) for various reasons: (i) the person to be identified is required to be physically present at the point-of-identification; (ii) identification based on biometric techniques obviates the need to remember a password or carry a token.

Various biometric traits are being used for real-time recognition, the most popular being face, iris and fingerprint. However, there are biometric systems that are based on retinal scan, voice, signature and hand geometry. Biometric devices, such as finger scanners, consist of: A reader or scanning device, software that coverts the scanned information into digital form and compares match points and a database that stores the biometric for comparison.

Unlike biometric traits, PINs or passwords may be forgotten, and credentials like passports and driver's licenses may be forged, stolen, or lost. As a result, biometric systems are being deployed to enhance security and reduce financial fraud. Such systems are called multimodal biometric systems.

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