United Arab Emirates Deployment of Iris Recognition

In a ground-breaking deployment of these algorithms starting in 2001, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Interior has used iris recognition of foreigners entering the UAE at 35 air, land, and sea ports. Via internet links each traveller is compared against about a million IrisCodes on a watch-list; the time required for an exhaustive search through the database is about 1 second. On the average day, about 12,000 arriving passengers are compared against the entire watch list; this makes about 12 billion comparisons per day. So far about 7,500,000 exhaustive searches against that database have been done, making about 7 trillion iris comparisons altogether. A total of 73,180 matches have so far been found between persons seeking re-entry into the UAE and persona non grata on the watch list.

It is important to understand why false match probability does not accumulate in such large exhaustive searches, when the vast numbers of cross-comparisons generate vast opportunities for false matches. The mathematical feature of the algorithms that prevents accumulation of error probability is explained here.

The systems architect, application provider, and integrator for this national programme in UAE is IrisGuard. An article describing this application in more detail is available here.

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