India’s unique identification program has started collating its database, while there’s healthy debate amongst people on the how moral or ethical is it to collect biometric data from citizens, the technology behind the whole project is something that interested me. The Unique Identification Number project gained a lot of attention internationally with companies like Microsoft, Yahoo wanting to be a part of it. Here’s what is public information about the highly IT dependent initiative led by India’s IT czar Nandan Nilekani.
Mahindra Satyam and Morpho (part of the Safran Group) will be providing the technology for issuing of UIDs. According to the press release, Mahindra Satyam and Morpho will be responsible for maintaining the databases and cross-checking the information. Mahindra Satyam will be providing expertise regarding system integration and IT while Morpho will provide the biometric equipment. Morpho’s relationship with the Indian government goes beyond, they will be providing explosive detectors for the capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The UIDAI website has quite a bit of information about the various equipment and the integration. The biometric scanners for the finger prints and iris scans come from L-1 Identity Solutions and Cross Match Technologies. Morpho has signed an agreement with L-1 to use their scanners for this project. In simple terms: UIDAI brings Morpho, Morpho brings L-1. Both L-1 and Cross Match will provide one eye scanner and one finger print scanner. Certified devices from the manufacturers are:
- L-1 Finger Print Scanner: TP-4101 or Agile
- L-1 Iris Scanner: Mobile – Eyes
- Cross Match Technologies Finger Print Scanner: Guardian
- Cross Match Technologies Iris Scanner: I Scan 2
Going through the client software readme documents available on the UIDAI website, the software is currently designed for 32-bit operating systems and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2.
According to another technical document titled Registrar Integration manual, it is suggested that prior to citizens coming in for the biometric scans. A pre-enrollment process takes place whereby demographic data and its verification is done beforehand.
Finally, who can apply and what happens when you go to get yourself enrolled for a UID?
Any citizen of India with documents as asked by registrar can apply. The three phases of the process are:
- Verification and Data Entry
- Biometric Data Scans
- Signoff and Acknowledgement
Technology blog Technospot.In has done a detailed post on these steps.
The documents I referred to for this are available for download and reference in UIDAI's download section.
PS: No matter what some blogs might claim, registering for a UID is optional as of now.