Facial, iris scans to be used at all checkpoints

Facial and iris scans have replaced fingerprint scans as the main mode for identifying travellers at all immigration checkpoints, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced.

Singaporeans, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and other travellers who have registered their iris and facial biometrics with the agency can use the new scans at all land, sea and air checkpoints.

More than two million Singaporeans, or about 70% of all eligible Singaporeans, have registered their iris and facial biometrics with the agency, while 130,000 permanent residents have done so.

Those who have not, or are unsuccessful when using the iris and facial scans at checkpoints, will still be able to check in by scanning their fingerprints, said ICA, which rolled out the technology together with the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX).

ICA said the technology, which was trialled at Changi Airport and Tuas Checkpoint last year, will provide “even more reliable authentication of the identity of travellers”, and is less prone to misuse as it requires specialised equipment.

Wong Weiyang, lead engineer of HTX’s Biometrics and Profiling Centre of Expertise, said iris patterns were chosen as a biometric identifier as they are more varied and unique than fingerprints.

They are also stable against ageing, and will be the same from birth to death, Wong said.

An iris scan provides almost 250 feature points for matching, as compared with about 100 points for a fingerprint.

The facial scan acts as a “second check” for the person’s identity, said ICA. — The Straits Times/ANN

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