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New Home Affairs system faster

The Department of Home Affairs believes its new Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) project will drastically change the manner in which South Africans are identified.

“This modern IT system will integrate with other relevant systems, inside and outside Home Affairs, to allow for one holistic view of the status of the clients. It will serve as a single source for biometric authentication of citizens and non-citizens across state institutions and private sector clients,” said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. He launched the system in Cape Town in May.

The ABIS project commenced in January 2016 with the aim of replacing the Home Affairs National Identity System (HANIS), which is manually operated and outdated.

One of the major chal- lenges posed by HANIS was the imminent collapse of the over 20-year-old biometrics database, which left the department with no choice but to conduct a technology upgrade, said the Minister. “The ABIS project will be rolled-out in phases over a five-year period. Among oth- ers, implementation will entail migration of the current HANIS

data (fingerprints and facial recognition) to the new ABIS, with improved functionality, installation and configura- tion of ABIS infrastructure and building of system functionalities,” said Minister Gigaba.

Benefits of the system include faster turn-around times for those applying for ID documents or passports and reduced cases of duplicate identities.

Banks will be able to verify client identification faster and the tourism sector will also benefit from quicker response times at ports of entry to capture and verify a traveller’s identity.

In terms of security, the South African Police Service can search for suspects by match- ing latent prints against ABIS records.

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