RTA kicks off facial recognition project

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RTA kicks off facial recognition project

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will this week commence its rollout of facial recognition technology to assist in proof-of-identification and fraud prevention.

The RTA said it had recently selected Sagem technology following a tender process, and expected the systems to be operational by the end of June.

The implementation follows a successful 2006 trial of the technology at the RTA, which was commissioned by Austroads.

The Authority's general manager of strategy and systems, David Putt, told delegates of the Biometrics Institute conference in Sydney that the first stage of the project will focus largely on backend applications - but it hoped to bring the technology to motor registries for enrolment and license renewal applications in the future.

"The first stage will really focus on any customer referred internally for proof-of-identification verification," Putt said.

"We'll also use it in our fraud investigation unit to find customers that have multiple licenses. Some people try to get a second license when they're running out of demerit points - we want to catch those people".

Putt said the technology would work within existing processes and would not "change the direction for teams involved in those processes."

He also said that cost effectiveness and the Authority's ability to make available more complex transactions online would affect the rollout of facial recognition to motor registries.

"We have to ask ourselves, how do we get increasingly complex transactions occurring in motor registries online to enable us to have enough time to do new enrolments and renewals with facial recognition technology?" Putt said.

"The question is how to make sure we can do all of these transactions at the same time as adding facial recognition-based transactions."

The cost-effectiveness of rolling out more instances of the technology is also a major consideration.

Putt said the RTA had been in consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to work through any privacy-related issues associated with the rollout.

"We're currently doing a privacy impact assessment," he said.

He said he believed duplication rates for license photos in its database were "very low, [but] significant [enough]".

"It's what we don't know - the known unknowns - that we want to find," Putt said.

Putt also said the RTA is watching Queensland's smart license rollout with interest.

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