Identity Crisis Solved: AP Government De-Duplicates Database

A new Bollywood movie called Mohandas tells the story of a battered young man, who claims to be the real Mohandas, and alleges that someone else has stolen his identity. Incidents like these are quite rampant in real life as well. It is interesting to note that the Andhra Pradesh (AP) state government has realised the dismay that citizens face in such situations and has decided to do something about it. The AP government is currently in the process of de-duplicating the existing ‘Iris Ration Card’ database to weed out duplicate/ bogus cards.

The iris ration card de-duplication project was initiated in 2005 by the government with the objective of eliminating duplicate ration cards (one household having more than one card) and bogus or ghost ration cards (cards in the name of non-existing households). Iris recognition is the most accurate among the top three biometrics recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the industry at large.

Even though the government of Andhra Pradesh started enrolling citizens from 2005, the objective of eliminating duplicate and bogus cards could not be achieved as de-duplication was not done on the aggregated data either at the district or state level. De-duplication would have ensured a unique identity of each citizen/ family at the district or state level. "The existence of duplicate and bogus cards was causing the government to lose thousands of crores every year in the form of leakages," says Sanjay Jaju, commissioner-Civil Supplies & E O secretary to the government of Andhra Pradesh.

Jaju further adds that duplication impacts not only the Civil Supplies Department but other government departments as well. "All other government departments like health, housing, pension, rural development etc can use this unique citizen ID database to deliver welfare benefits pertaining to their departments. This project would ultimately ensure an effective delivery mechanism for the entire government so that the welfare schemes reach the intended beneficiaries," says Jaju.

'A good idea constitutes about ten percent and implementation, hard work and luck are the remaining 90 percent,' said Guy Kawasaki. To accomplish the above task, 4G Identity Solutions (4G ID), the government’s chosen technology partner, will deploy a farm of blade servers, L-1 Identity Solutions’ SIRIS matching engine with the next-generation algorithms developed by Dr John Daugman and 4G ID’s Multi-biometric Identity Platform. So, how do 4G ID and the AP government plan to implement this project? The roll-out is planned in two phases. In the first stage, iris- and text-based de-duplication will be done by taking the entire state as the unit for de-duplication to identify duplicate and bogus ration cards. The results of the de-duplication shall be provided to the government of Andhra Pradesh for field verification. Once the statewide de-duplication and field verification are completed, the duplicate and bogus cards’ data will be deleted from the database and a 'unique citizen identity database' will be built.

In the second phase, the government plans to enroll citizens for whom the iris was not captured earlier. For this, 4G ID would be providing an enrollment solution deployed on a centralised architecture, whereby as a person comes for enrollment, his/ her iris will be captured and compared with the data already present. This will ensure that a citizen is not enrolled more than once into the system and thus, a 'unique citizen Id database' will be created.

This project involves de-duplication of data relating to about 2 crore ration cards by performing 6.26 quadrillion (6,262,668,889,152,840) iris matches in 60 days. "About 3 crore field verification sheets are being printed, which will be taken out by the survey teams to verify the existence of families/ citizens. About 9,60,000 man days of effort are expected to go into the field verification exercise," says Sudheer Nanduri, vice president, 4G ID.

"Given this mammoth exercise, we have set up a project management team comprising management professionals and IT experts," he further adds. A detailed project management plan has been prepared that lists various tasks and the timelines during which deliverables are to be prepared. A risk management plan has been prepared to manage contingencies that arise during the course of the project. The IT infrastructure that is being used for the project includes next-generation iris algorithms for de-duplication.

'Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble,' said Benjamin Franklin. So what benefits does the government hope to derive from this project? "This present project will help the government save about Rs 2000 crore every year," says Jaju. Government will be setting up an enterprise framework for delivering various services, which was previously not possible due to the lack of a 'unique citizen identity database'.

The state will be incurring an expenditure of Rs 60 crore for the de-duplication and field verification processes. "The payback period for the government for this project is just a few days as it is estimated that Rs 500 crore will be saved for every 10 lakh duplicate and bogus ration cards eliminated," says Jaju. The estimated number of bogus/ duplicate cards in the state is about 40 lakh.

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2010 11:59:00 IST