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From strength to strength

Biometrics has moved from a little-understood science to a recognised subset of information technology and security solution, as Bill Perry of the International Association for Biometrics explains

The International Association for Biometrics (formerly the Association for Biometrics), or iAfB, provides a forum for the European and wider international biometrics community to promote the development and implementation of biometric technologies, standards and applications through education and awareness programmes and the gathering and dissemination of best practices.

The iAfB was started in the mid-1980s by a small group of biometric enthusiasts, with strong endorsement and indirect funding provided by the DTI. From its humble beginnings, the iAfB has gone from strength to strength, becoming the recognised national body for biometrics in the UK.

Over the past two decades, we have seen the biometric industry grow from a fledgling industry with only a few people who could spell biometrics let alone describe what they could mean to society, to a thriving multi-million pound worldwide market. It has been a growth that has, at times, appeared to stutter and even stagnate as commercial enterprises struggled to understand where and how this new technology/process can benefit the bottom line.

Through these times, the iAfB was the stalwart of the industry, providing independent information and advice at every opportunity it could. iAfB speakers have featured on all major security and fraud conferences for the past 10 years. It is encouraging now to record that, year on year, sales of biometric-related systems and solutions have grown exponentially for the last five years and at last biometrics has become a word that everyone knows and understands.

A great deal of the latest rise to fame is as a direct result of the iAfB (members?) active involvement in the creation of international and European standards for biometrics. Through the British Standards Institute, iAfB members form the majority of the committee for biometrics (SC37) and are extremely proud of the impressive list of standards published over the past two years.

As biometrics moves from an ill-understood science to a recognised subset of Information Technology and Security solutions, so the iAfB is positioning itself to respond to a very different set of demands. The focus has moved on from that of a general education and market positioning to one of specific requirements for specific markets. The government, with its ePassport and ID card programmes, has spearheaded the public sector initiatives with specific reference to civil markets.

In tandem, the Police Information technology Organisation (PITO) has recently awarded the largest UK-based criminal biometric deal to replace the National Fingerprint Systems with a state-ofthe- art biometric platform that can integrate with current and future technologies (as appropriate).

The iAfB, as a non-profit organisation, cannot do this alone and so we have and will continue to create partnerships with like-minded organisations to further the interests of all our members.

To date, we have agreements in place with:

European Biometric Forum

Biometrics Institute (Australia)

International Biometric Industry Association (IBIA ? USA)

Spanish Biometric Group

Dutch Biometric Forum

TeleTrust (German National Body)

Singapore Biometrics Working Group

In the UK, we are currently in negotiations with a number of organisations in related fields to ensure our members as well as the general public benefits from the services that the iAfB offers.

Our mision

We achieve this through our primary objectives, being:

The last year has been a difficult one for the iAfB, but with a reconstituted board and a review of the organisation under our belts we look forward to the future with confidence.

We are on the cusp of a number of enormous opportunities, both in the UK and across Europe, with the iAfB positioned to support, guide and even influence direction. Being an association, we are only as strong as our members. That said, we have close to 100 members (split 50/50 between SMEs and large corporates) that are all involved in the biometric market in one way or another.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that our end-user membership base has grown as well as a number of universities joining the membership. These are exciting times for biometrics and related technologies and the iAfB aims to be at the centre of this experience.

The iAfB is open to all, whether it is larger corporates, SMEs, educational institutions, end users or even individuals. All members are treated equally in that they have the same access to all the iAfB resources and publications.

For more information on joining, contact:
Tel: 01604 660125