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[FEATURED NEWS] HTX flexes innovation muscles at international gathering

Xponents share insights at Biometrics Institute meeting organised in collaboration with ICA

HTX’s Deputy Chief Executive (Development) Mr Ng Yeow Boon delivers the closing address at the Biometrics Institute meeting. (Photo: HTX)

HTX’s Biometrics & Profiling (B&P) Centre of Expertise (CoE) got to show off its innovations and share industry insights with its international counterparts at a Biometrics Institute meeting jointly organised with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on 5 April 2024.

This half-day event, themed How Biometrics Create Positive Impacts: Government Use, Public Perception and Biometric Good Practice, was an associated event of the Milipol Asia-Pacific – TechX Summit 2024.

In attendance at the meeting were Biometrics Institute members from around the world, officers from HTX, ICA, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Home Team Departments, as well as representatives from the private sector.

Mr Ong Choon Beng, Deputy Commissioner (Capability & Technology Development), ICA, delivers the opening address. (Photo: HTX)

The response to the meeting was overwhelming, with many unable to secure a place due to oversubscription. One of the main reasons behind this is the global reputation of the Biometrics Institute, which has served the international biometrics community since October 2001. The institute is an independent and impartial platform and forum for the science, technology, and ethics of biometrics.

The credential of the speakers – they hold key positions in the fields of biometrics and homeland security – was another major pull. This fact was highlighted in the panel discussion themed Good Practices for Biometrics – Addressing Current Challenges to Public Acceptance, which consisted of officers from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) in the United States, as well as representatives from Singapore’s ICA, and Denmark’s National ID Centre.

The panel for Good Practices for Biometrics – Addressing Current Challenges to Public Acceptance. From left to right: Ms Kimberly Weissman, Senior Communication Advisor, Biometric Entry/Exit and Travel Innovation, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Mr Phua Chiew Hua, Deputy Director, Operations Division, ICA; Mr Patrick Grother, Biometric Standards and Testing Lead, NIST; Mr Jakob Dam Glynstrup, Director, National ID Centre, Denmark. (Photo: HTX)

Mr Willy Lee, the Director of B&P CoE, was one of the presenters at the meeting. His talk, titled Key Considerations of Biometric Application at the Border, touched on the practical challenges of using biometrics at border checkpoints.

Mr Willy Lee shared on the challenges of using biometrics at border checkpoints. (Photo: HTX)

Mr Lee focused on the example of the ever-changing lighting conditions throughout the day, which could result in scanners failing to capture clear biometric readings at border checkpoints. As an exploratory study, B&P CoE conducted on-site surveys and environmental measurements. It was found that introducing supplementary lighting could significantly improve the quality of the images captured for facial recognition.

Another key speaker was Mr Phua Chiew Hua, Deputy Director, Operations Division, ICA, who presented Transforming border operations: ICA New Clearance Concept (NCC). 

Mr Phua Chiew Hua’s presentation on the NCC. (Photo: HTX)

Mr Phua outlined the NCC's objective of creating a seamless, more efficient, and secure automated clearance process, and explained how advanced analytics are used to enhance assessment capabilities at Singapore’s checkpoints.

Automated gates at Woodlands Checkpoint. (Photo: HTX)

He also shared that ICA is aiming to increase the adoption rate of travellers using the automated lanes at airports and other checkpoints.

First-time foreign visitors arriving in Singapore can self-enrol their biometrics via the automated lanes. Singapore residents and departing travellers can soon enjoy the convenience of contactless clearance without the need to scan their passports for immigration clearance.

Many of the representatives from the Biometrics Institute commented that the meeting was a highly informative and insightful event.

“The presentations and discussions clearly demonstrated how complex biometrics are. Any use of the technology requires careful consideration and risk management. The speakers and panellists, all biometric practitioners were incredibly willing to share their lessons learnt,” said the institute’s chief executive Isabelle Moeller.

“CBP provided wonderful insights into managing public perception of biometrics. Of course, the ICA’s use of biometrics is leading edge and our members are always eager to hear about what’s next,” she added.

Biometrics Institute chairman and director Jakob Glynstrup concurred, saying, “Good discussions and especially interesting to learn about what is being done in Singapore and what is in the pipeline. It will be interesting to see how things will evolve in the coming years!”

Meanwhile, US CBP’s Kimberly Weissman, who was a panellist at the event, said the topics discussed were “very interesting and informative” and that the audience appreciated learning about updates related to facial biometrics, artificial intelligence, and the importance of outreach.