Further trials to tackle challenges of biometrics

The government is planning further trials of the biometric technology behind its £5.6bn ID card programme.

The government is planning further trials of the biometric technology behind its £5.6bn ID card programme.

The Home Office plans to recruit 2,100 volunteers as well as 300 people from groups with biometrics that may be "more challenging" to record, in order to test the ability of biometric systems to recognise individuals.

The move follows a trial with 10,000 members of the public last year, which was designed to assess the reaction of the public to biometrics, rather than the performance of the system.

The Home Office will ask technology suppliers to provide two identical sets of biometric recording equipment as part of its procurement programme, details of which were disclosed last week.

The Home Office plans to divide the project into a "small number of coherent packages", and aims to move rapidly to negotiating details of the system with a manageable number of suppliers.

Suppliers could deliver an entire package or work as part of a consortium to deliver the project, according to the procurement strategy market soundings document released last week.

The Home Office plans to spend five months working with suppliers to refine the system, and to test the technology before issuing a final invitation to tender.

Panel of experts to ensure biometrics are 'fit for purpose'

The government's chief scientist is to head a panel of experts to assess the biometric technology behind the government's ID card programme.

David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, will chair a panel of 10 experts to ensure that biometrics are "fit for purpose" for use in the ID card system.

The move follows criticism that biometric technology can have difficulties recognising some sections of the population.

Research by London University College found that fingerprints could produce false negatives from people with arthritis, long fingernails, circulation problems or those wearing hand cream. Iris recognition could be disrupted if people wore glasses, and face recognition could be confused if people wore hats or makeup, the research by Angela Sasses of the department of computer science revealed.

The Home Office said the formation of the panel, which is due to meet for the first time later this month, was not in direct response to the criticism.


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