Integrated Biometrics working with Mexican NGO on ID system for disaster victims
29 March 2018 12:55 GMT

Fingerprint tech firm Integrated Biometrics has formed a partnership with a Mexican NGO that will see it help provide a mobile ID system for victims suffering as a result of recent earthquakes.

In September 2017, Mexico suffered destructive earthquakes of magnitudes 8.1, 7.1, and 6.4. Mexican national civil defense, alumni of the National Defense College, businesses, and countless other groups activated to help with recovery. More large quakes occurred in southern Mexico in February of 2018.

In a blog post outlining the partnership, IB noted that despite extensive experience and preparation, these organizations immediately faced an overwhelming challenge. They needed to identify who required emergency medical assistance, who needed food and shelter, who needed help rebuilding, and for how long a time – quickly and securely.

Identity becomes exponentially more difficult to establish after earthquakes and other natural disasters. Paper records might no longer exist or never existed in the first place. Government or non-governmental organization (NGO) facilities may not be accessible, safe, or structurally sound. It might take weeks to re-establish telecommunications and electricity. The potential for fraud, theft, or misuse is immense.

Una Torre de Ayuda (A Tower of Help) set out to overcome these obstacles and accelerate recovery through mobile identity management, using lessons learned from previous earthquakes in Mexico. The organization, based in Mexico City, reached out to Integrated Biometrics for fingerprint scanners that operate under extreme environmental conditions, such as those that were far too prevalent in the affected Mexican regions.

Integrated Biometrics’ rugged, portable Kojak 10-finger units run for hours off the power provided by a smartphone or similar device connected to a cellular or satellite communications network. They handle wide ranges of temperatures and finger conditions and operate in direct sunlight, making them ideal for use in the field.

Una Torre de Ayuda will combine Kojak biometric fingerprint scanners with advanced identity management software to enroll individuals and families for essential services delivery across the affected areas. Kojak’s ability to operate without developed infrastructure will enable Una Torre de Ayuda to enroll survivors at the onset of recovery operations. Aid workers will use this system to verify identity as long as assistance is needed, ensuring that people who need help receive it and fraudulent requests are denied.

“We are very grateful that Integrated Biometrics understood the importance of our need and had the technology to help us assist victims in rebuilding their lives,” said Luis Vidales, Chief Executive Officer of T.C. Vilsa and founder of Una Torre de Ayuda. “Even better, they donated their Kojak fingerprint scanners so that we can use more of our limited funds to help people in need rather than purchase hardware.”

“We are proud to help organizations such as Una Torre de Ayuda,” added Stephen Thies, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Biometrics. “Identity is so much more than just law enforcement or border control. It also provides a foundation that betters peoples’ lives. We’re glad our scanners can help make a difference in Mexico, both now and in the future.”