Qld picks driver's licence suppliers

Queensland Transport (QT) has selected three core technology suppliers for the state's chip-embedded drivers' licences, which will use public key infrastructure (PKI) to encrypt drivers' biometric information.

Queensland Transport (QT) has selected two more core technology suppliers for the state's chip-embedded drivers' licences, which will use public key infrastructure (PKI) to encrypt drivers' biometric information.

Unisys, Leigh Mardon Australasia and Placard (whose involvement was revealed in January) will now commence supplying the technology, which will see the state's 3 million conventional cards gradually replaced with digital cards embedded with a chip containing drivers' information. The new licences will not have the driver's information printed on the card. It's expected to take five years to complete the state's card overhaul.

The deals mark the end of trials the state has conducted since 2003 within its SimLab laboratory and constitute the roll-out of Australia's first smart card driver's licence. The overall licence project comes under the remit of QT's chief information officer Cathi Taylor, who was previously the state's freedom of information commissioner and replaced former CIO Paul Summergreene late in 2007.

Unisys, which has previously won a deal to supply biometric capture systems to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship under its Systems for People initiative, was awarded the contract to supply QT with 370 facial image processing units, including cameras, facial verification software and case management tools for the handling of facial biometric information stored on the new cards.

The units will be installed at QT's customer service centres, and select rural police stations and Queensland Government Agent Program centres.

QT has also selected Leigh Mardon Australasia — a member of the American Banknote group — to provide around 10,000 so-called "customer interface devices". The units will be equipped to capture signatures and PINs, confirm identities, as well as smart card and payment functionality. The three-year deal to 2012 also covers software, support, hardware maintenance and implementation services.

The department is promoting its use of public key encryption to protect cardholders' information, whereby two unique keys — private and public — are exchanged, with the private key used for authentication. Under the new system, QT will store driver's details and match the information stored on the card's chip.

QT claims that PKI encryption will reduce the likelihood of identity theft and fraudulent licences.

Meanwhile, the chip embedded cards will be supplied by local company Placard, which has been contracted until 2013.