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Updated: April 10, 2010 01:24 IST

UID gets off the ground with test phase in Andhra Pradesh

Yogendra Kalavalapalli
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A woman giving finger print impressions on a digital machine at a special booth set up for the proof of concept phase of the UID project in Medak district. Photo: Nagara Gopal
The Hindu A woman giving finger print impressions on a digital machine at a special booth set up for the proof of concept phase of the UID project in Medak district. Photo: Nagara Gopal

One of the most ambitious undertaking of its kind , the Unique Identity Number (UID) project took a baby-step, with the launch of a test phase in Medak and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Christened ‘Proof of Concept' (PoC), the initiative will set the stage for the pilot phase, which is expected to commence in August, and eventually the final phase when it rolls out throughout the nation.

It will also help the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the nodal authority to provide a unique identity number to every Indian citizen, to define biometric standards in the Indian context and standardise the process of biometric capture and collection, V.S. Bhaskar, Deputy Director- General, UIDAI, said.

The UIDAI has chosen Andhra Pradesh, given the State's experience in implementing the country's largest biometric programme and the availability of a centralised database. The State, through its Civil Supplies Department, had issued iris-based biometric cards to 4.59 crore citizens.

For the first time, biometric data (face image, fingerprints and iris scans) unique to each person, along with demographic and personal identification details (name, gender, age etc.), will be collected from every citizen. One of the primary objectives of ‘Proof of Concept' will be to assess the functionality of these biometric technologies and solutions at the ground level.

“The UIDAI will look at the enrolment conditions in rural areas. The devices are designed for clean environments and might not function properly due to Indian conditions such as sweaty weather and dust. Sometimes fingerprints cannot be enrolled because of the nature of work — a problem called ‘noise' in technical jargon,” said Sreeni Tripuraneni, chairman and CEO of 4G Identity Solutions (4GIS), a Hyderabad-based identity management solution provider, chosen to implement ‘Proof of Concept' in Andhra Pradesh.

The company developed an algorithm to remove the ‘noise' before segmentation and matching. “Since a large percentage of the population resides in rural areas, the success of the UID project will depend on the reliability of biometric data captured for these people.”

Bearing in mind the rustic Indian conditions, the UIDAI identified 10 locations — eight villages and two semi-urban centres — for the exercise. The target: procure biographic and biometric data of an estimated 30,000 persons twice over 56 days.

Since March 3, 4GIS teams have been collecting biometric data through the state-of-the-art devices after validating eligible populace through their ration cards.

Iris scans were captured through an automatic device, Retica, or a manually-operated PierT 2.3 (in the case of eye problems), while fingerprint impressions were enrolled in two stages — first on a device called Identix that does the job in three steps (4+4+2 fingers) followed by DigitalPersona, a fingerprint reader that validates the earlier results, one finger at a time.

“It is only when both the inputs match that the system proceeds to the next step. In case, there is any mismatch or the system cannot read the fingerprints correctly, we will have to scan the respective finger(s) again,” said K. Venkateswarulu, team coordinator in Patancheru mandal of Medak district. The process will be repeated when participants turn up for second enrolment three weeks later.

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