Biometrics Technology and the New Economy: A Review of the Field and the Case of the United Arab Emirates

Biometrics Technology and the New Economy: A Review of the Field and the Case of the United Arab Emirates

Ali M. Al-Khouri (Emirates Identity Authority, Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/jide.2012100101


Over the past decade, biometrics technology has evolved from a technology used primarily in forensics and a narrow scientific and technological field to an indispensable technology in public and private sectors expanding into areas calling for advanced security. Biometric technologies provide high levels of security and reliability to address requirements related to identification and verification of personal identities. In light of the ever increasing requirements for robust identity management, biometrics industry is evolving to play a central role in shaping the future economy. This article provides a comprehensive overview of biometrics technologies, its functions, areas of application, related international standards, and recent advances in the field. The second part of the article looks at the application of biometrics in the government sector worldwide, and the emerging pivotal role of biometrics in consolidating the foundations of the digital economies and sheds light on the experiences of the United Arab Emirates in deploying different advanced biometrics technologies in a wide range of applications. It also outlines the government plans to develop an identity management infrastructure to address multiple strategic objectives, some of which are related to revolutionizing public services and supporting the development of the digital economy.
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1. Introduction: Biometrics History And Current State

Human race has always been beset with the need for highly secure identification and personal verification methods, arising from various reasons spanning social, economic, commercial and legal considerations. Identification is a process through which one ascertains the identity of another person or entity. It has always been recognized that every human being has unique traits that can define his or her identity.

Recognition started from the faces that are as unique as they may appear. However, larger populations, advances in surgical alterations and modern citizen centric service models have necessitated varying methods of recognition and unique identification.

Derived from the Greek words: Bios (Life) and Metron (Measurement), biometrics represents the science of identity recognition. Biometrics as a science and an automated means of identification may only be a few decades old, but as a concept, it has been in existence for thousands of years (Figure 1 and Table 1). Today, biometrics identification is recognized worldwide as a definitive personal identification method with specific metrics that gives both the service provider and the end user the assurance of a rapid, secure, and convenient transaction.

Figure 1.

Late B.C. - Picture writing of a hand with ridge patterns was discovered in Nova Scotia

Table 1.
Recognition means in the history of civilisation
Research ReferenceEvidence
Renaghan (2005) Details of a cave dating 31,000 years back revealed hand prints of pre-historic humans with pre-historical pictures apparently signed by fingerprint stamps of authors.
McMahon (2005) Chinese and Indian historians have references of fingerprints used as signatures in transactions going back five thousand years.
International Institute of Hand Analysis (2005) The Babylonian clay tables of 500 BC show evidence that human kind used to record business transactions and sign it using fingerprint stamps.

Clearly, personal identification has become a key requirement for today's increasingly digitised global economy. Indeed, trust in electronic transactions is essential to the vigorous growth of the global economy. Although markets shrink and expand in cyclical fashion, emerging nations continue to present emerging new markets with endless opportunities. However, globalisation is generally raising the level and intensity of competition to deliver better, faster, cheaper services and products in a secure and trusted environment. Businesses find themselves in need for modern identification solutions ever than before to establish such trust basis, i.e., for denial and accordance, and for acceptance and refusal.

Businesses and governments alike in the past decade have therefore paid high attention to protecting their infrastructures from impersonating and/or infiltrating activities; a crime that was reported to cost 35 billion dollars in the United States alone in 2011 (Vamosi et al., 2011). With such justified attention to identification requirements, methods of identification assumed greater prominence.

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