Project Iris

Home Department written question – answered on 12th September 2005.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Conservative, Lancaster and Wyre

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) what the recognition failure rate is of scans carried out in the pilot project Project Iris;

(2) what the reliability levels are of the scanning unit deployed in the 10 locations where Project Iris is being piloted.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

The IRIS operational pilot went live in two locations at Heathrow Terminal two and Terminal four on 20 June 2005. The technology is based on taking a photograph of the iris pattern, which is the most personally distinct feature on the human body (even identical twins have different iris patterns), and converting it to a digital code.

The prime contractor for IRIS, SAGEM SA part of the SAFRAN group, are contractually obliged to meet the following biometric rates:

Failure to Enrol rate (FTR)—must be less than 2 per cent.

False Reject Rate (FRR)—must be less than 2 per cent.

False Accept Rate (FAR)—must be less than 0.001 per cent.

No biometric is 100 per cent. foolproof and biometrics do not have set error rates. The likelihood of errors is determined by the whole system and measures put in place throughout the whole process. Iris recognition has been chosen as the biometric for the IRIS scheme because it outperforms all other biometrics in terms of security, speed and accuracy. We are working with our supplier to ensure that all system error rates will be negligible and will not affect the integrity of the immigration control.

The pilot will be evaluated prior to commencing roll-out to eight other airport terminals from October 2005. Iris recognition is a method of securely recognising someone by the pattern of their iris.

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Adrian Nash
Posted on 17 Oct 2005 12:00 am (Report this annotation)

IRIS will probably prove to be the usual very expensive IT failure, that is so very common with government projects involving computers and/or new software! I can't think of any that have come in on time, within budget or working properly. I don't see how IRIS will be any different.