'UID Is Going To Change The Government's Service Delivery Mechanism'

UID has been the buzzword for a while now as far as e-governance is concerned. One of the biggest projects being undertaken by the government of India, it was also one of the highlights in this year’s budget. 4G Identity Solutions, a known player in the identity and access management space, has won two bids to provide both fingerprint and iris recognition devices to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Biztech2.com spoke to Dr Sreeni Tripuraneni, Chairman and CEO of 4G Identity Solutions, about the challenges and the necessity of this project.

One more government project for 4G. How does it feel?

More than being a government project, we are delighted to be a part of the biggest roll-out ever for an ID project. We have started our long journey in 2003 with a motto of ‘Authentic people, Unique IDs’; educating clients about the importance of providing a unique ID for every individual especially in a welfare-oriented country like ours is important. We are glad that the government of India has recognised the importance of providing a foolproof ID that can be used by people to access different services and benefits from governments and other organisations.

Does the work go beyond commercial borders to assume social dimensions?

Yes, the scope goes beyond the commercial border as the main objective of providing a unique ID is to serve as a great enabler to improve the targeting and delivery of major government welfare programs and public services, especially to those, who are poor and marginalised. UID, the single version of truth, will be transformational in eliminating bogus and duplicate IDs as individuals will no longer be able to represent themselves differently to different government agencies.

How do you plan to overcome the challenges of scale, diversity and environment in this deployment?

The proof-of-concept covers around 45,000 enrollments. We have an experience of deploying large-scale ID projects in India for governments where scalability to millions, handling diverse population in harsh environmental conditions has been handled.

What practices will result in the optimum quality of captured biometric information?

From our experience, we have set certain procedures and processes to be followed before, during and after the enrollment that would result in best capture of biometric information. The software application being used for the enrollment also has certain features like an inbuilt quality check that will ensure good quality biometric data is collected.

What level of accuracy can be expected by using fingerprints, iris, and a combination of fingerprints and iris?

From our experience, iris is the most accurate and robustly deployed biometric. We have found certain issues in the quality of fingerprint images captured in the Indian environment because of which the accuracy suffers. Obviously, a multi-modal biometric approach encompassing both iris and fingerprint, would certainly improve the accuracy of de-duplication.

How does this accuracy vary across certain demographic traits such as gender, age and occupation?

The scope of the present proof-of-concept being done by UIDAI is to study the variations of accuracy across the parameters you have mentioned. From our experience, age and occupation are some of the key factors that affect the accuracy of fingerprint biometric.

Who will be responsible for updating the data and making changes as and when necessary?

The present scope is only proof-of-concept and UIDAI would fix the responsibility in the days to come.

What are the database challenges associated with this project?

The current phase of the project i.e. the proof-of-concept covers 45,000 enrollments and handling this small a database will not be a challenge. However, in the main project, where UIDAI plans to cover 600 million people, the size of the database – including the demographics, pictures and biometrics – would run into tens of thousands of terabytes making it one of the world’s largest databases. Maintenance of such a huge database securely is a big challenge in itself. This data flows from tens of thousands of enrollment centres spread across the entire country and managing the flow of data to the central data centre with zero transmission loss would be the biggest challenge.

Beyond the data capturing devices, what other technologies will play an important role in the project?

Other than the biometric devices, some of the factors that will play an important role would be:

• Enrollment application design
• Enrollment operators’ training
• Biometric de-duplication design and algorithm
• Security of data
• Connectivity

Do you think the UIDAI project will change the delivery mechanism of citizen services in India? If yes, how?

Absolutely, the project is going to considerably change the face of the service delivery mechanism for government services. Most government services and welfare programmes have been ineffective and inefficient because of duplicate and bogus beneficiaries and duplication of efforts in collecting the same data by different departments. Being a welfare- and development-oriented state and with most of our welfare schemes having errors of inclusion and errors of exclusion, it is absolutely critical for the country to improve the delivery mechanism in order for the nation to prosper. And the only way to do this is to issue a unique ID that is highly accurate.

Updated Date: Apr 07, 2010 12:07:23 IST