Georgia considers bar code biometrics for driver's licenses

Georgia next year could be among the first states to begin attaching facial biometric data to its driver's licenses and nondriver identification cards. The state this week signed a six-year, $20 million contract with Viisage Technology Inc. to manage its ID production system.

The technology places biometric data in a bar code on the back of newly issued cards.

The Littleton, Mass., company's Viisage FaceExplorer devices could collect facial images of card applicants and link them to the state's Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which was developed by Sagem Morpho Inc. of Tacoma, Wash.

Georgia's Department of Motor Vehicle Safety has been collecting fingerprints since 1996 in an AFIS system separate from the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. 3M Co.'s Confirm security film will protect the cards from tampering.

DMVS commissioner Tim Burgess said the agency was considering long-term requirements in case the state legislature mandates biometrics or other strong identifying security mechanisms for the state's IDs.

"The requirements are likely to change," Burgess said.

"[Viisage] presented a proposal we felt was technically qualified," he said. "We asked for new security features, the capability to do things like facial recognition, a new point-of-sale system and digitized document scanning at all workstations, which will be a significant improvement in our ability to detect fraudulent breeder documents used in the issuance of drivers licenses.'

Burgess said that although Viisage can provide advanced security features to state IDs, the DMVS wants to discuss with the state's governor-elect and the Legislature whether implementing biometrics and other security features are necessary.

"We did not want the Legislature to require some feature in the future or Congress to come along and mandate a feature and us say 'Our technology won't allow us to do that,' " Burgess said.

Viisage provides facial recognition technology to five other states. Illinois has been using its products to discover who is holding multiple government-issued ID cards. That state's Vehicle Services Department compares new photographs against thousands stored in its databases.

'There's a lot of pressure to make improvements soon,' said Jay Maxwell, CIO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, speaking Tuesday at the CardTech/SecurTech ID conference in Washington. 'We see that as a good way to use facial recognition technology.'

Maxwell said Illinois has already found 'tens of thousands' of people with multiple ID cards under different names. In January, he said, he will propose new standards to make state cards more uniform. Biometrics will not be part of the proposal, however.

Georgia will also implement Viisage's FacePass device for access to DMVS facilities. The company said the contract paves the way for state police to work with the DMVS to create an identity-checking system.

Maxwell said the primary value of biometrics on state-issued cards is not to help police verify identities of stopped drivers, but rather to reduce fraud. 'What we're trying to solve is people using multiple licenses,' he said.


  • senior center (vuqarali/

    Bmore Responsive: Home-grown emergency response coordination

    Working with the local Code for America brigade, Baltimore’s Health Department built a new contact management system that saves hundreds of hours when checking in on senior care centers during emergencies.

  • man checking phone in the dark (Maridav/

    AI-based ‘listening’ helps VA monitor vets’ mental health

    To better monitor veterans’ mental health, especially during the pandemic, the Department of Veterans Affairs is relying on data and artificial intelligence-based analytics.

Stay Connected