Biometrics in the times of Covid- 19


With the spread of the pandemic, the biometric industry is facing uncertain issues regarding manufacturing new modalities and also about logistical and privacy issues. Many countries are facing security issues and are trying hard to contain the virus with the help of biometric systems.


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed everyone’s daily life and has changed the course of biometric systems. The pandemic has gripped the world and new privacy and surveillance systems became essential during the early period of the outbreak. Governments soon started using geolocation data to track individuals to monitor the spread of the disease.


Image source: Jakarta Post


Biometric facial and iris recognition technologies are rapidly being adopted to check the identity of individuals. Sometimes, two biometric modalities are combined together in new ways to battle the disease outbreak. Non-contact type of identity verification is on the rise as fingerprint biometric systems can become potential vectors for the disease’s spread. Many organisations and businesses were using fingerprint scanning methods for identification and authentication. With the spread of infection, many governments have insisted on changing biometric modalities. With the combination of existing technology with the new biometric systems, different countries are evolving new methods of biometric systems.


In China, tablets are used inside the buses which can detect the body temperatures and take the snapshot of potential COVID-19 patients. The identification is later used for contact tracing and testing of suspected patients. In the United States, fever detection screening systems are employed for mass detection and rapid testing.  Thermal surveillance cameras are used to detect fevers and alert customers of the presence of someone who may be carrying the coronavirus. Screencheck has witnessed an exponential demand in thermal cameras and non-contact biometric systems since the outbreak started in last December.


Many biometric manufacturing companies are now adding temperature detection sensors along with the already existing models. 3D face recognition systems are made to identify people wearing masks with 98% accuracy and are able to collect body temperatures. Hospitals have already installed these kinds of biometric systems in isolation wards. Technologies that can detect faces through masks and detect body temperatures are advancing in almost every biometric manufacturing companies.


Face recognition systems


The demand for contactless facial recognition systems is currently increasing. The reason can be explained in two-fold. Organisations across the globe are cutting down contact-heavy biometric systems that require fingerprints or iris scans to curb the spread of the pandemic. This created a demand for facial recognition systems and are marketed thoroughly across all countries. The second fold is that the biometric companies are customizing their solutions so that they are better equipped to track citizens who may test covid-19 positive.


The process of detecting suspected patients through biometric methods is the only sense full way of finding superspreaders who fail to isolate themselves. They become a moving hotspot of the virus by potentially spreading it to others. It is clear that face recognition systems have a definite edge over conventional fingerprint biometric technologies but the concern of the authorities lies in personal privacy.


The issue of privacy  and protection of the rights of individuals remains unaltered. People have expressed concerns over authorities who use biometric methods to scan data without informing them. In the past, facial recognition systems were withdrawn from many establishments as the public had a major dissatisfaction using them against their will. But the panic caused by the Covid-19 only opens the door to facial recognition systems as the only solution in contacting the virus. This, in turn, is becoming advantageous for biometric companies to increase the production of face recognition systems.


Facial recognition systems can be easily installed and can help governments to monitor and track individuals. This can destroy the privacy that comes with anonymity in a crowd, but this seems to be the only logical approach right now. The current situation can be utilized by individuals with a vested interest to obtain data to exploit the public. This needs to be closely monitored by companies and governments. Great care must be taken by companies in adopting facial recognition biometrics at this time and should be ready to disclose the data. A comprehensive methodology needs to put in place for this.


Screencheck Saudi is providing trusted facial recognition systems to their clients. The experts at the biometric system shop in Saudi Arabia explains laws and policies regarding installing facial recognition systems.

Contact Screencheck Saudi Arabia at 00966 11 4450504.