With the growth of biometric technology into practically all government applications, South Africa is hailing the new era of identity management as a significant step forward in controlling fraudulent practices and other criminal activities. At the forefront of this identify management (IDM) revolution is biometric technology, with logical biometric access control rapidly proving itself over traditional forms of data security systems. Biometric IDM solutions based on Sagem fingerprint technology, are currently being used extensively in government's interaction with millions of South African citizens. Powered by Ideco's operating platform, Sagem-based fingerprint identification systems underpin the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) which will issue SA's new national ID cards. Sagem technology is also used by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to identify criminals as well as by the Department of Home Affairs to verify the identity of citizens for pension payments.
One of the most significant advances in biometric IDM solutions is in South Africa's criminal justice system. The application of Sagem's fingerprint technology to secure individual government department's information systems has not only aided in the reduction of data fraud but has secured the system's overall integrity. The national Integrated Justice System is a mechanism in government that brings together the Department of Safety and Security the, Department of Justice, Correctional Services and Social Development. Each of these departments has a function dedicated to the Integrated Justice System (IJS).
The IJS was established to ensure that ministries and departments coordinate their processes so that information flows seamlessly between governmental departments involved in justice. From the moment that the South African Police Service (SAPS) makes an arrest until the convicted offender is placed in prison, a process of information sharing is followed between departments. High rates of fraudulent data entry and invalid changes meant that the IJS needed a logical form of access control which would timeously aid in the identification of information fraud. According to Vhonani Mufamadi, CEO of the Ideco Group, "The typical process of convicting a criminal, involves the integration of various government departments so it becomes critical to ensure that the process runs smoothly and that the information being shared between departments has not been tampered with." Mufamadi adds, "With so many interrelated departments involved in each case, it is evident that the ability to manage information is critical in ensuring that justice is achieved."
Sagem's systems have played a key role in securing logical access control to the information shared between these departments. The Ideco Group has supplied over 1000 Sagem fingerprint readers with fake finger detection (FFD) technology to the SAPS for logical access control. These readers are used specifically in Forensic Laboratories, the Logistics departments, the Firearm Licensing department and the Stolen Vehicle department. The FFD technology - exclusive to Sagem - was essential as the use of the readers to guard forensic evidence became critical. The ability of Sagem's technology to detect fake fingers meant that not even persons with extensive experience in identity fraud can bypass the system and tamper with data-sensitive samples and documents.
Through the system's tracking capabilities, a far more reliable mechanism for audits in the IJS system is assured. In the Forensic laboratories, for example, the system is able to track through logical access control which samples were handled, which dockets were completed and at what stage they were altered. Previously, when important documents went missing in an investigation, there was no way of tracking their disappearance. Now, with Sagem readers, one is able to track the exact movement of each document and track who altered it and when. The system as a whole is being used to control and manage all logical access onto the systems of all the operators across departments. This will essentially stop fraud that results from data corruption and misrepresentation.
The future of logical access control in South Africa's justice system is also looking to grow through Ideco's Live Scans that are to be rolled out across approximately 108 police stations and criminal courts throughout the country. Live Scan fingerprint stations digitally capture fingerprints of suspects, their portraits as well as their demographic data (age, gender, previous criminal offences) and have been deployed across the country. The Live Scan stations will be linked to the online police automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) where the suspect's demographic details and criminal status will be verified. Through this technology, the Live Scan is able to verify any previous criminal records within 48 hours. The Live Scan replaces the traditional manual fingerprint capturing procedure, where fingerprints were captured on paper and sent to a central office where manual verification was done. With this traditional system, verification of records could take two to three weeks if not months.
The success of AFIS has also spilled-over into the commercial and private sectors through Ideco's new AFISwitch solution. Ideco's exclusive AFISwitch solution is a biometric fingerprint-based criminal background search system for the private sector. AFISwitch interfaces directly with the national South African Police Service's automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) to determine the criminal record status of job applicants. AFISwitch therefore allows private companies and institutions to undertake background checks on job applicants and existing employees as well as to obtain clearance certificates for the purpose of emigration, permanent residency and international investments.
The acceptance of such movements in logical access control is proving very positive. According to Mufamadi: "Since AFIS was commissioned in 2001, and its big role in the police environment, Sagem fingerprint technology has become a very powerful tool in the fight against crime. We see a very positive future for fingerprint technology in securing all logical transactions in South Africa's justice system, as well as the private sector."
For more information contact Olivia Kwietniewski, Ideco, +27 (0)11 745 5600, firstname.lastname@example.org