Madeira to pilot fingerprint biometric cards for decentralized digital IDs

Sea and cliffs of the island of Madeira
SMART ISLAND: Madeira is testing biometric digital ID cards that give them access to a wide range of services

The Government of Madeira is to issue biometric cards containing an in-built fingerprint sensor to 3,400 of its citizens for the pilot test of Smart Island, a decentralized digital identity project encompassing 12 education, healthcare, port security, transport, payments, tourism and government services.

The initial order for the credit card-sized biometric smart cards has been placed by The Power of Touch, the consortium developing the Smart Island system, ahead of a pilot due to take place from early next year.

“The concept of the card’s usage in Madeira is to ensure that its citizens have trusted access to both physical locations and a wide and fast-growing range of digital-based services,” card manufacturer Tactilis explains.

“By providing a common, convenient-to-use, digital identity platform to all segments of the community, the technology will advance Madeira internationally as a modern, trusted society.

“The implementation of the solution also ensures that Madeira’s government and citizens will be adequately equipped to securely participate in emerging technology trends such as cryptocurrency, shared economy platforms and the use of blockchain.”

The system is based on a decentralized architecture, “meaning that the rightful owner’s fingerprint biometrics are stored securely in their own personal card — kept in their own wallet — protected by their own fingerprints and are not needed in a centralized database, which is potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks/manipulation,” Tactilis adds.

“The ‘Smart Island’ programme is financially supported by the Madeira government and the European Union, and aims to set a new higher-level standard for trusted transactions and secure personal data management in modern Smart Cities.”

Secure services

“The Government of Madeira is very enthusiastic about the vast possibilities for this technology and its ability to make the life of Madeirans more convenient, safe and secure,” says Miguel Filipe Machado de Albuquerque, President of the Government of Madeira.

“At the same time, it will enable our government and related agencies to deliver a wider range of services securely whilst managing their operations more efficiently.

“Madeira is well positioned to pioneer this technology to the rest of the world. We now look forward to seeing the first pilots start early next year and the full rollout commencing later in 2020.”