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Thumbs up for biometrics

A Germiston-based company, ISAS (Intelligent Secure Administration Systems), is taking its biometrics solutions into schools, petrol stations and farms – delivering commercially viable offerings with practical benefits.

ISAS COO Martin Britz says: "What we do here is look at everyday situations and then create a biometrics solution around thumb print scanners for that specific need. You can have a device like a finger print sensor, but all it is is a device – you have to create an application to make it work.”

The company has 15 registered patents covering a variety of vertical markets, and has a client base of around 25 customers. Its locally developed, Windows-based biometrics application, which Britz says has a 99.9% accuracy rate, is being implemented by an increasing number of SA-based companies, including BP, Steers, Virgin Active and SPAR.

Currently, 60% of ISAS' business comes from the education sector. Systems installed at nursery and pre-primary schools have streamlined annual registration processes and daily administration considerably, as each pupil's information is now available electronically, says Britz. Roll call – for example – is handled by each pupil simply pressing a thumb against a scanner governed by his or her teacher. Dispensing medication is also less complicated, as it involves just a quick entry into the daily online schedule.

The company is also designing an application for the aviation sector that can capture all information around passenger movements using simple thumb print scanners, and could potentially protect against disasters like 9/11.”If you look at the terrorists who trained for 9/11, they left off a small local airfield so there's a huge security breach in small airports. Our system could prevent such further incidents,” says Britz.

Britz claims that his offering costs 15 times less then other comparable solutions. His pricing model revolves around a monthly fee per person entered into a particular installation's database, rather than a fixed, upfront rate for hardware and software.

It takes about two minutes to capture a person's details for the database. The system doesn't capture the image of a fingerprint because this is illegal. "No private individual can capture the image of another individual's fingerprint and store it, it's against the law,” says Britz. So the system creates a mathematical equation based on the fingerprint and then simply stores that.

The solution is facilitated via portable, wireless devices made by Finland-based NordicID. At schools – for example – these ISAS BioPods use biometrics to store everything from test marks, homework, merits or d-merits.

Britz says his offering has been recognised by a major American firm, and negotiations are currently underway to roll it out into the healthcare industry, both locally and in the USA. "I don't want to declare who they are just yet, but it's a very large transaction that we're busy with. All I'll tell you at this stage is there's a lot of zeros behind it,” says Britz.

"Medical aid fraud is costing the industry billions because I can give my medical aid card to my uncle, brother or whoever, and they can receive treatment. With ISAS's system, this shouldn't happen because you will have to identify yourself with your finger, and not a plastic card which can be lost, stolen or given,” says Britz.


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