The Indian government is busy rolling out the world’s biggest biometric identity database, India Stack, as part of its ambitious Digital India initiative. The project is based on compiling more than 1 billion records of each Indian citizen, with everyone assigned a national identity number – an Aadhaar (foundation) – that links to standard data such as name, gender and age, along with biometric information such as fingerprints and iris scans.
The government believes India Stack can help tackle some of the country’s serious problems, such as corruption and the lack of financial inclusion. Aadhaar is already in use at a number of state agencies and the government claims that its authentication process has already eliminated thousands of duplicate accounts and saved welfare programs billions of dollars.
The authorities reckon India Stack will also help the private sector, by enabling businesses to tap into customer segments previously out of reach. “Suddenly, we go from the world where a small street vendor does not even have a bank account to the world where the same vendor now conducts all his transactions digitally, uses the information to obtain credit, grows his business and even invests his savings profitably.”
In Dubai, the government is riffing off Tom Cruise and Minority Report with the introduction of biometrics into policing. The authorities are using facial recognition technology to identify known criminals via images picked up on CCTV, with the system sending alerts to officers so that they can potentially intervene and prevent offences. Local police believe it will give them the edge over ‘future crime’.
The Dubai police clearly has a penchant for new technology, with officers trialling Google Glass back in 2014 with a view to hooking the wearables up to facial recognition software.