India releases biometric enrolment report
16 December 2010 18:12 GMT

Enrolment report from India encouraging

The UID Authority of India has released the findings of its Proof-of-Concept (PoC) study of biometric enrolment with very encouraging findings - and demonstrates quite how far biometric technology has come in the last few years.

UIDAI performed the study from March 2010 to June 2010 in the predominantly rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Bihar. The UIDAI also carried out the biometric enrolment of school children in the vicinity of Bangalore. About seventy five thousand people in all were enrolled during the first phase of the PoC study, and sixty thousand of the same people were re-enrolled during the second phase after a gap of three weeks.

Prior to conducting the UIDAI PoC, there was insufficient reliable biometric data available for residents of India that could be used to analyze and reach conclusions relevant to the implementation of the UID program. In addition, outside the state of Andhra Pradesh, there was no significant history of collecting iris images.

In the study, face photos, iris images, and fingerprints of all ten fingers were captured. The ten fingerprints were captured in two different ways: first using a slap device, and then using a single finger device. Rural areas were emphasized in the study for two main reasons. The first was to test the theory that the quality of fingerprints from rural workers was expected to be worn out by prolonged physical labour. The second was to test the UIDAI?s ability to carry out biometric enrolment in locations representative of the majority of India's infrastructure, i.e. in areas with limited access to electrical power, proper lighting, and other support systems.

The report noted the following main findings:

  1. The PoC successfully conducted over 135,000 biometric enrolments. The relative ease of conducting the operation confirmed that biometric enrolment conforming to UID standards of quality and process was indeed possible on a large scale in rural India. The total biometric enrolment time for each individual, on average, was a little over three minutes. Of this, iris enrolment took a little under a minute, and was not perceived to be excessively difficult either by the resident or the enrolling operator. Specifically, many blind people had their iris images captured.
  2. Multiple fingerprint scanners as well as iris capture devices were used in the PoC, and they performed according to expectations. The PoC was dispersed geographically and included many rural, often remote locations across three states. The enrolment was typically conducted with minimal infrastructure and sometimes in extreme weather conditions. Enrolees varied in age all the way from four years to about ninety years of age.
  3. Older people took longer to enrol than younger people, and enrolees whose employment involved manual work took longer to enrol than the rest of the PoC population. Older people needed more assistance from operators to capture of their 5 biometrics. However, the range of enrolment times observed was well within expectations and was not seen as making enrolment impractical.
  4. The enrolment variations tested in the process led to the conclusion that the best process was one where the enrolee remained stationary during enrolment and the operator did the positioning of the devices.
  5. The enrolment of children in the school showed that children in the age range of four to fifteen could be biometrically enrolled using the same process as that used for adults and with no additional difficulty. The match analysis also showed that their iris images and fingerprints could be deduplicated as accurately as those of adults.
  6. The quality of the biometric capture was sensitive to the setup of the enrolment station and the process itself. Most importantly, the enrolment operator's instructions made a significant difference in the efficiency of the biometric capture.
  7. The quality check process built into the enrolment software was very important and provided helpful feedback to the operator in capturing high quality images.
  8. The biometric matching analysis of 40,000 people showed that the accuracy levels achieved using both iris and ten fingerprints were more than an order of magnitude better compared to using either of the two individually. The multi-modal enrolment was adequate to carry out deduplication on a much larger scale, with reasonable expectations of extending it to all residents of India.