Digital fingerprinting system set to launch Canada-wide

In light of last week’s alleged terrorism plot andarrests in Toronto, national security is a hot topic that continuesto garner much debate.

And part of that debate is the growing demand from businesses,government agencies and individuals for background and securitychecks.

This increase in demand for these services has resulted in apartnership between Quebec City, Que.-based Unicom Canada, abiometric technology company, and private, not-for-profit securitycompany Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, to provide a digitalfingerprinting service.

The new system will take fingerprints using a scanner, asopposed to the current paper and ink method, according to PaulGuindon, CEO, Commissionaires Ottawa.

“Everything is put into an electronic file, and then it’sforwarded to the RCMP,” he said. “The system components willinclude the scanner, electronic signature capture equipment, adigital camera if photos are needed (for a visa), and certifiedprinters.”

After it’s forwarded to the RCMP, the information is verifiedelectronically, and a confirmation of the electronic transformationis received, he said.

“So the records are verified and if there are no ‘hits’ as theRCMP calls it, it’s processed within minutes instead of months,” hesaid. “Everything is done in a secure fashion because our system isconnected via a secure virtual private network and with controlledfirewalls as well.

“All the information on a person is held by the RCMP not by athird party. The fingerprinting service will also be easilyaccessible, as it will be available at all Commissionaires Canadastations as well as through their mobile stations.”

Unicom Canada will provide the equipment andsoftware, in addition to full technical and maintenance support,said Andre Ledoux, president and CEO, Unicom Canada.

“We are the only Canadian company that has the official RCMPaccreditation for the transfer of electronic fingerprints sent tothe RCMP,” said Ledoux.

He noted the need for security checks of employees, and thedemand for biometric technology with respect to identification andsecurity, is on the increase.

“Before 9/11 a lot of people associated biometrics, and inparticular fingerprint analysis, to criminality,” he said. “Theattitude has changed, not totally but it has changed, and manypeople will say ‘If you promise me that this airline is safer, I’llgive you my prints.'”

He said there is more awareness of the need for increasedsecurity, especially in light of events like last week, where analleged terror plot was broken up by police in Toronto, as well asthe bombings in London, England last summer.

“What happened in Toronto just last weekend…no country istotally safe, Canada is probably on some hit list somewhere,”Ledoux said. “We have to be careful, and biometrics is still theonly way to identify people for sure, and fingerprint analysis isthe best of these ways.”

Guindon said there are policies in the works with respect toidentification, at various levels of government. An upcoming policyfrom Natural Resources Canada will require Canadian citizens thathandle explosives to be issued a security card.

“So in order for someone to use explosives in a mine in Sudburythey will have to be cleared to do so, which means that abackground check will be done on the person through fingerprints,and they will be issued an identification card that will allowpermission to transport or use explosives,” said Guindon.

He added that some banks are also looking at this technology,and eventually the system will replace what is now called thecriminal background check, based on name and Social InsuranceNumber only.

As for the new digital fingerprinting service, it will be fullyoperational by the end of the year, according to Guindon.

“This partnership with Unicom will provide a fully automatedelectronic identification, it will allow the process to bedramatically reduced in terms of processing time and wait time forthe public,” he said.