Georgia will bar code biometrics on driver’s licenses

GCN News 11/22/02: Dipka Bhambhani

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Georgia next year will be among the first states to begin attaching facial biometric data to its driver’s licenses and nondriver identification cards. The state this week signed a six-year, $20 million contract with Viisage Technology Inc. to place biometric data in a bar code on the back of each newly issued card.

The Littleton, Mass., company’s Viisage FaceExplorer devices will collect facial images of card applicants and link them to the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which was developed by Sagem Morpho Inc. of Tacoma, Wash. Georgia’s Motor Vehicle Safety Department has been collecting fingerprints since 1996 in an AFIS system separate from the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. 3M Co.'s Confirm security film will protect the cards from tampering.

Although Viisage provides facial recognition technology to five other states, Georgia will be the first to implement biometrics on its driver’s licenses and other ID cards. Illinois has been using Viisage technology to find out who is holding multiple government-issued ID cards. That state’s Vehicle Services Department compares new photographs against thousands stored in its databases.

“There’s a lot of pressure to make improvements soon,” said Jay Maxwell, CIO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, speaking Tuesday at the CardTech/SecurTech ID conference in Washington. “We see that as a good way to use facial recognition technology.”

Maxwell said Illinois has already found “tens of thousands” of people with multiple ID cards under different names. In January, he said, he will propose new standards to make state cards more uniform. Biometrics will not be part of the proposal, however.

Georgia will also implement Viisage’s FacePass device for access to DMVS facilities. The company said the contract paves the way for state police to work with the DMVS to create an identity-checking system.

Maxwell said the primary value of biometrics on state-issued cards is not to help police verify identities of stopped drivers, but rather to reduce fraud. “What we’re trying to solve is people using multiple licenses,” he said.


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