Unisys sign border biometrics deal with Australian government

Published 13 September 2006

Company will provide finger-biometric and face-scanning technology; Australian market booming on government demand

The United States is not alone in desiring a biometric solution to border security problems. Australia, much like the United States, was founded by immigrants and heavily relies upon them to fill to critical labor shortages. In 2005, the country announced that it would the next year accept 130,000 and 140,000 non-humanitarian migrants, with a skilled migrant component of 97,500 — most from China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and India. With its long shorelines and proximity to Indonesia and other poor Asian countries, illegal immigration and visa overstays are a serious problem as well.

Unisys Australia announced this week that it had signed a contract to supply the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) with finger-biometric and face-scanning technology. The technology will be implemented initially in immigration detention centers. If succesful, the company will adapt the system for border entry locations. Working with Unisys on the project are the University of Canberra, Daon, the International Biometric Group, Cognitec, NEC, Tactics, and Aulich & Co. Unisys is also working on simliar proects for the U.S.(Registered Traveler program), South Africa (Home Affairs National Identification System), Malaysia, and Canada.

-read more in this company news release


The Australian biometrics market:

Out of a $4 billion worldwide biometrics market, Australia makes up about $400 million of it—not too shabby for a country of only twety million people. Approximately thirty companies are active in the Australian biometrics sector, including multinationals such as Argus, Cognitec, Daon, IR, Sagem, Scansoft, Unisys, and VeCommerce. Although the private sector has demands similar to those of other countries — access control, employee identification, smart card applications — it is the government that is driving the market. Here are just a few government biometric initiatives currently underway:


1.In the 2005 Australian Federal Budget, $145 million was allocated to boost biometric technology over a four-year period for border security and passenger processing. This measure represents the largest commitment to date by the Australian government to biometric programs

2. Over the next three to four years, Australlian customs will phase the introduction of eighty SmartGate kiosks at Australian airports

3. DIMA is building a database of facial, fingerprint, and iris scans that will be linked to a global processing system and intelligence and security databases

4. The Australian Federal Police received $6 million in the 2005 budget to test biometric technology at key transit points to enhance border security with the neighboring Asia Pacific region

-read more in this U.S. Commercial Service PDF market report