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Comelec prepares to award biometrics deal

Posted on: August 10, 2009

Comelec prepares to award biometrics deal

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 19:27:00 07/31/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is in the final stage of bidding for automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) and biometrics machines that will be used to purge the poll body’s voters list.

Comelec allotted P1.6 billion to purchase by August additional 2,200 biometrics data capturing machines (DCMs) and AFIS system to augment the 600 units it acquired in 2003, thus allowing all municipalities nationwide to have at least one DCM unit, said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

The partnership between local firm Strategic Alliance Holdings Inc. (SAHI) and Bangladesh-based Tiger IT were declared to have the lowest calculated responsive bid on Wednesday over rival Nippon Electric Co. said Jimenez.

SAHI-Tiger IT declared a bid of P1.216 billion while Nippon Electric’s bid is P1.59 billion.

If SAHI-Tiger IT will pass the technical demonstration and post qualification stage, Comelec will “likely award” the contract by next week at the earliest, said Jimenez.

Specifically, the winning AFIS bidder will provide 2,200 DCMs and an AFIS system which includes a software for cross-checking voter records, setup of a transmission infrastructure and renovation of
Comelec’s IT department data center and centralized printing facility for generation of voter’s IDs.

The winning bidder will build a transmission infrastructure from Comelec election offices nationwide to the main office to provide real-time transmission of captured biometrics. Technical support will be provided for a year, said Jimenez.

“We are conducting the bidding for the AFIS system and additional DCM units so we can purge the voter’s list for the 2013 elections. To do this, we have to capture first the biometrics of 25 million existing
voters who have no records with us yet and in turn, new applicants can have their biometrics records captured more easily,” Jimenez explained.

“Through AFIS and biometrics capturing, we can catch multiple or double registration records and come up with a purged voter’s list after the 2010 elections,” he added.

No legal constraints

In a separate interview, SAHI spokesperson Vince Dizon said their AFIS solution complies to Comelec’s requirement of 99.99 percent accuracy in matching a fingerprint against the current CVL record.

He added their solution can crosscheck or match one fingerprint set of a voter (composed of left and right thumb and index fingers) out of 480 million sets per second.

Dizon is confident they will not face legal constraints nor will SAHI back out from the project after the award, citing it did not have issues in 2008, when it provided poll machines for the 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Biometrics–composed of a voter’s digital signature, photo and finger print specimens–can offer a more refined method for cleansing the computerized voter’s list (CVL) by locating multiple records of voter’s registration throughout the CVL biometrics matching, said Jimenez.

Until 2004, Comelec used algorithmic matching to purge the CVL by matching the voter’s name and birthday records but Jimenez said the method had limitations such that a change in surname for married women or even misspelling in encoded data will make it hard for Comelec to detect multiple records.

In January, Congress ordered Comelec to purge the computerized voters’ list in preparation for the 2010 automated elections but Comelec said the cleansing of voter’s list through biometrics will be “realistically done by 2013” after 25 million registered voters without biometrics have submitted their records, thus allowing Comelec to crosscheck all data.


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