Home Affairs technology to improve service delivery

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cape Town - An innovative new system aimed at speeding up the processing of identity documents (IDs), is currently being implemented at Home Affairs offices around the country.

The system, known as live capture, has already been introduced at 40 regional offices to secure datea captured at front offices.

The system entails the capture applicants' signatures and fingerprints digitally. Officials scan the photo of the ID applicant on to a computerised system, which then prints the image directly on the document.

While currently used for passport applications, the system will be extended to ID applications during 2010.

Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said the new technology would save officials time, as they no longer have to manually stick an applicant's photo on his or her new ID.

The department's administration duties would also be dramatically reduced, as until now copies of all citizens' fingerprints and ID photos have had to be manually collected and filed.

Dlamini Zuma said that innovation not only formed part of the department's turnaround strategy, which involves a complete overhaul of document-processing methods, but also marked a move towards meeting international standards.

It was also imperative to the department's programme to improve service delivery and the security of the passport.

The government plans to equip every Home Affairs office with such a workstation by the end of its turnaround drive in March 2011.

On other technology developments within the department, Dlamini Zuma informed the media that Home Affairs Information System (HANIS ), which converts existing hardcopy records from paper-based images into digital images to allow for faster and more accurate identification of persons, currently houses 33 million sets of fingerprints and more than 13 million pictures.

The department is also investigating making changes to the birth certificate to include more information and make it more secure. The current certificate is easy to forge, said Dlamini Zuma.

"The abridged birth certificate has been upgraded to include the details of one parent (especially the mother). The inclusion of additional information will go a long way in curbing the misuse of
birth certificates."