Major International Deployments of the Iris Recognition Algorithms: a Billion Persons
As of August 2014, almost a billion persons worldwide have had their iris patterns
mathematically encoded using the Daugman algorithms for enrollment in national ID
or entitlements programmes. This number is projected to reach 1.3 billion persons
when current national projects have been completed at the end of 2015. Here
are some of the notable deployments for national ID purposes:
- The Unique IDentification Authority of India (UIDAI) is enrolling the
entire population of 1.2 Indian citizens within 3 years, which entails an
enrollment rate of about a million persons per day. The purpose is to
improve access to social benefits, subsidies, and other entitlements with
reduced fraud; historically less than half of Indian Government aid actually
reaches its intended recipients. The entitlements ID scheme requires
massive concurrent de-duplication checks across the entire database while
it is being built. Mathematically this workflow scales as the square of the
database size, requiring hundreds of trillions of iris cross-comparisons
daily. Avoiding "ID collisions" (False Matches) at such a scale is made
possible because the iris recognition algorithms famously have extreme
resistance against False Matches. The Government of India maintains a
dashboard (updated weekly) showing the progress of UIDAI, which is
on-track in August 2014 at 650 million enrolled persons, visible at
this URL. A short
article describing this application and how it works is available at
the next link on the Main Page.
- A similar national ID program has been launched by the Government
of Indonesia, whose target is to enroll the iris patterns and
fingerprints of the full population of 172 million persons by the
end of 2014. As of August 2014 the Daugman algorithms (deployed
by MorphoTrust, formerly L1 Identity Solutions) had completed
160 million iris encodings and enrollments, proceeding at the rate of
about 600,000 per day. The Indonesian National ID Program uses the
acronym "e-KTP" for the electronic national identity card.
- In Mexico, the National Population Register ("RENAPO") aims to
encode and enroll the iris patterns of 110 million citizens, with a
parallel programme targeted at school children for security purposes.
- The US Department of Defense has enrolled the iris patterns
of 10 million service personnel in a military electronic ID card scheme
called CAC (Common Access Card).
- Several countries or emirates in the Middle East, including
Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,
use these iris encoding algorithms for national registry purposes
and for Visa applications (e.g. to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage).
- Elsewhere in the Middle East, the UN Iris-ID Program uses these
algorithms for tracking and delivering aid to refugees from
the conflict in Syria. As described in this
Scientific American article, "Security systems identifying individuals
by their irises are a centerpiece of the United Nations assistance strategy
for Syrian refugees in Jordan."
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