Canadian Underwriter

Facial recognition set to go live in Saskatchewan in late August

August 18, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

Print this page Share

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) will have in place facial recognition software when issuing driver licences and photo identification cards come Aug. 24, a move the insurer maintains will help combat fraud and bolster road safety.

Face detection software recognizing a face of young womanCustomers will not notice anything different with the adoption of facial recognition – something already in place in most other Canadian provinces – but the technology is expected to have some visible benefits, suggests a statement earlier this week from SGI.

The technology will help protect Saskatchewan residents from identity theft, prevent anyone from getting more than one card and avoid the creation and distribution of fake ID cards, notes a backgrounder from SGI, the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund.

Facial recognition will also help to improve road safety by preventing suspended drivers from using a false identity to get a licence, the backgrounder adds.

“This enhances road safety for everyone because it means someone with a suspended or revoked driver’s licence isn’t able to continue driving by getting a new licence under a different name,” SGI president and CEO Andrew Cartmell says in the statement.

The contract for driver’s licence and photo ID card production was awarded to Veridos Canada Inc., which began producing Saskatchewan’s driver licence and photo ID cards on April 1, 2016.

Related: SGI chooses vendor for driver’s licence production services, facial recognition could help enhance security and fight fraud

SGI explains that when a photo is enrolled into the facial recognition system, the system creates a numerical template of the photo by using landmarks on the face, such as the size and/or shape of the eyes, nose and jaw.

If the customer has an existing driver’s licence/photo ID card on file, the system then compares the numeric templates of both the new and previous photos.

The system then compares the photo’s numeric template to those of all other photos in the database, thereby confirming the photo is not associated with any other customer in the database.

Andrew Cartmell, president and chief executive officer of SGI

Andrew Cartmell, president and chief executive officer of SGI

“Facial recognition technology will be used only for a very specific purpose; to detect fraud and maintain the integrity of Saskatchewan’s driver’s licence and photo ID system,” states the backgrounder.

“SGI is committed to maintaining the privacy of your personal information in accordance with the law as outlined in The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” it points out.

Customers are not required to get a new photo or card until their current one expires, SGI points out. In addition, there is no added cost to customers and the driver’s licence and photo ID cards continue to be valid for five years.

Calling the transition seamless for customers, “we are pleased to provide enhanced security that our customers can count on,” adds Cartmell (pictured above, left).