HP unveils product in Europe for secure identification management

Hewlett-Packard has unveiled a new end-to-end system allowing governments to provide secure identity documents for their citizens.

The HP National Identity System was unveiled during a press conference in Geneva today, but the technology has been used in several European countries already, including Italy, which will provide electronic national identity documents for its citizens.

The company has also implemented or is in the process of implementing secure documents – such as for traveling, entitlement services, voting, driving privileges, personal identification and authentication – in Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and Israel.

The technology is built on a Microsoft .NET platform and can be integrated with other Microsoft software products and technologies. It can also be fitted into a country’s existing infrastructure and is modular in nature. That means governments can select and plug in components such as biometrics as they’re building or deploying applications in a multitier architecture, said Jennie Grimes, director of HP's worldwide government solutions.

“You don’t have to start from scratch,” she said.

Within the offering, HP provides consulting services, hardware, software and maintenance services. Grimes said the company could help a country assess its current capabilities, help provide a phased rollout of a system, address questions such as where data is stored, and upgrade technology to ensure the system is working optimally.

HP’s product addresses several functions, such as online and off-line enrollment of demographic and biometric data through live capture of images, online and off-line identity verification, local and/or central verification and registration, document management and security, and business continuity and disaster recovery operations.

When asked whether HP intends to market the National Identity System in the United States, Grimes said, “Very carefully.”

Americans and U.S. government officials have repeatedly said they do not want a national identity system in this country. In effect, state-issued driver’s licenses act as sort of de facto national ID cards. Driver’s licenses have moved away from their original intended use of providing driving privileges to being accepted as an authentication document for its holder.

A new federal law called the Real ID Act is intended to strengthen driver’s licenses. It requires state motor vehicle department officials to adopt minimum national standards and physical security features such as biometrics and also requires them to ensure that breeder documents, such as birth certificates, passports and others, are authentic.

Grimes said that HP wants to “show the art of the possible” with how federal and state government officials and other stakeholders can use technology. “We want to make sure they understand where the technology can go so technology is never the inhibitor,” she said.

Last month, HP and three European companies were awarded a $48.5 million contract by the European Commission to develop centralized information systems to manage border and police information and visa requests.

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