BIODEVII Pilots Highlight Process Challenges Over Technology

BIODEVII Pilots Highlight Process Challenges Over Technology

Motorola shares lessons from its involvement with five BIODEVII projects

Basingstoke, UK – Motorola, Inc. has played a key role in five of the European Union’s eight BIODEVII projects, led by France, helping to create biometric solutions for border control in Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

The aim of the EU’s BIODEVII pilot programme is to establish best practice around the use of biometrics to strengthen the visa system throughout the EU. The introduction of a visa system backed by biometric technology is being developed to reduce visa fraud (and ‘visa shopping’), prevent identity theft and to combat terrorism and human trafficking.

“From the pilots we’ve been involved with, it’s clear that the biggest challenge is around working practices,” says Gillian Ormiston, senior solutions consultant, Biometric Identity Management and Security Solutions, Motorola. “Back office activities are now needed at the front office – this is a change from only handling paper with the applicant to handling paperwork and capturing and entering the data into a visa management system. While the biometrics technology operated smoothly, the system is only as good as the processes that sit behind it.”

The pilot programme focuses on preparing Member States to connect to the EU Visa Information System which is in the implementation phase. It also intends to prepare consular posts, test interoperability between different vendor solutions, evaluate visa application and border procedures and uncover privacy protection issues.

“The second largest issue is physical. Many border control points are not suited to having equipment on the passenger side of the booth. Clearly there is also a need for easy to understand instructions for citizens applying for visas or passing through border controls. Similarly, consulates vary in size, infrastructure, lightening conditions and the number of staff and applicants. It’s easy to forget how different a consular post in Africa or Asia can be from a consular post in the EU.”

As a result, a combination of fixed and portable enrolment solutions (PC, fingerprint scanner, and camera; all contained in a travel case) have proved beneficial for most countries.

Country specific variations, such as one country swiping the machine readable zone of a passport while another country may use a barcode from the application, have been straight forward to accommodate.

“Technology challenges have remained relatively low level,” Ormiston continued. “The transmission of high resolution images raised some cost and speed of operation issues. This has increased the interest of a common ISO minutiae template that allows faster fingerprint matching, with reduced storage and transmission costs. However, changing from the proven images used in the pilots to such new templates will not be implemented until such time as the ISO templates are accepted worldwide. Similarly, the additional investment has dissuaded some countries from taking a live facial photograph at the same time as other biometrics despite the benefits it offers.”

The BIODEVII projects are due to continue to second quarter 2008 when all participating countries will report their findings to the European Commission.