From the Editor’s Desk: May 2014

India has relied on visual identification of its people till now. Most of our ID documents are still based on photographs as primary identifiers, be it passports, drivers licences or voters cards. Even the “Ration Card”, which was never meant to be an identification document, has somehow evolved into being one. Today, instead of having just one single type of an ID document as standard, various authorities accept multiple types, and often different types of documents.

Each state uses its own discretion in determining its standard. For example, some states still have the Drivers Licences as an A4 paper based document with the particulars of the holder typewritten, along with a photograph pasted on it, while some states have opted to issue their drivers licenses as smart cards, where the embedded chip holds the personal particulars and biometric data of the licence holder in its memory. There is unfortunately still no standardised way of issuing such documents with a uniform electronic database structure, field authentication and transaction recording devices.

Without a statutory decree mandating a standard that ensures interoperability, a sustainable issuance mechanism and life cycle management system of biometric smart cards, all the card based schemes such as National ID Cards, e-Passports, Driving Licenses, Vehicle Registration Certificates, Rural Health Insurance Cards, Rural Employment Guarantee Card, Public Distribution System face the danger of running aground!

According to a Research and Markets forecast, the biometrics market in India is set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of just over 44% during the period 2013-2018. Biometric examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, face recognition, DNA, palm print, hand geometry, iris recognition, retina and odour/scent. Behavioural characteristics are related to the pattern of behaviour of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice. Some researchers have coined the term “behaviometrics” to describe the latter class of biometrics.

According to a recent report by Gartner, almost a third (30%) of global organizations will use biometric authentication on mobile devices by 2016 compared with just 5% now. The trend could be more pronounced in India because businesses rely heavily on mobile devices. As mobiles increasingly contain business critical data, their security will become more important.

It would be interesting to observe how India is able to leverage the best combination of these technologies in our e-Governance applications, while managing the actual operations in an efficient and secure way.

While all this happens, our law enforcement continues to stress upon our hotel industry to keep a record of the ID document of each guest that checks in, without their having the facility of online verification and knowing if the document being presented by the guest is genuine!

In the cover story of this issue of SECURITY TODAY, we take a relook at hotel security after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that may well be considered as the watershed of the hospitality security industry in India. Hotel security in India has completely changed since then. New procedures and equipment has been adopted by hotel security departments, the police have tightened compliance requirements while customers have started to seek safer stays.

I hope you will find our research and compilations interesting and useful.

Till we meet next month, Cheers and Happy Reading.


G B Singh

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