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Biometrics vendor targets security conscious enterprises

Regional airports around the Middle East are soon to deploy biometric technology to make them secure and help reduce congestion, according to Irish security firm Daon.

Regional airports, seaports and border crossing around the Middle East are soon to deploy biometric technology to make them secure and help reduce congestion, according to Irish security firm Daon. In an attempt to tap into this potential growth at an early stage, Daon has been showcasing its latest biometric software at Gitex 2004. The company also says it is tendering for work at airports in Kuwait City, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

“The Middle East is one of the world’s fastest adopters of biometric technology, and soon nearly every airport and border crossing in the region will be considered state-of-the-art in terms of its ability to quickly, accurately and positively identify individuals,” says Tony Murphy, chief operating officer of Daon.

The company is already involved in implementing its technology at three airports in the US, but the biggest growth area is now expected to be the Middle East.

“This industry is growing very fast, and some analysts say it will be worth US$2 billion within a couple of years, and a huge share of that will come from this region,” explains Daon vice president Patrick Gilmore.

“Right now, almost every GCC country has a biometric project underway. It’s a great way to reduce queuing up at airports, and the perfect way of identifying an individual,” he adds.

The company’s software, which is being showcased in hall three, requires users to pre-register their details in a country, with a special scan of their eyeball made. This composition is then held in a database and used to match them when passing through border crossings. The software also prints a receipt, which users stick on to their passports.

“There has been massive interest here, especially at Gitex. I presume a lot of that is because of the security issues in the region,” says Gilmore. “This is a phased programme, but I really feel that in years to come airports will only use biometric technology as a means of identification. You will never have to queue up again for two hours and wait for someone to check your passport,” he adds.

Daon is now planning to set up offices in Dubai as its revenue stream from the Gulf grows. “A lot of other Irish companies are also looking at doing business in the Middle East, especially those like us in the software sector,” says Gilmore. “The Irish government is setting up a fully working embassy in Dubai shortly, and that will help facilitate businesses like ours. I have a good feeling that we will be here for a long time to come,” he adds.

The company has also been in talks with leading banks and retailers in the Middle East, with a view to extending the possible applications for its software technology. Daon is hoping to tender for three new contracts worth over US$4 million. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Gilmore says.

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