Biometrics is increasingly being promoted in New Zealand as the answer to access control, whether shutting unauthorised employees out of the computer suite and other sensitive areas of a company premises or stopping potential terrorists at the border.
Another North American biometrics entrant is targeting government agencies here and in Australia. Imagis Technologies, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, has set up an Asia-Pacific office in Sydney, and Wellington company ITB has gained the New Zealand agency for Imagis products.
Like the Unisys-Visionics partnership (see US seeks NZ input on international security), Imagis sees business coming to Australia and New Zealand through pressure from the US for international standard practice in biometrics for protection against terrorism at airports.
US authorities want passengers’ identities fully checked when they board an airliner for the US, says ITB director Alan Osborne, and this could mean pressure to introduce similar biometrics protection at airports around the world.
Imagis has already made forays into the US market, notably with law enforcement authorities in California and with the UK’s National Crime Squad. The latter is using it to compare child pornography images from arrested people’s computers with images of lost children. But, equally, it can be used in a commercial context to identify employees of a company with the right to enter certain areas.
Visionics has the presence of Unisys behind it, and Osborne says one immediate aim of ITB here is to look for a systems integrator. The Imagis software is provided in the form of a software development kit, which will allow the technology to be incorporated in applications specific to the customer. The kit will be priced at about $25,000.
Imagis has itself a number of packaged applications, such as a computer-assisted booking system to record and digitise the image of an arrested person’s face, for comparison with a database of previously known criminals and suspects.