Once implemented, it will check the Honduran national criminal database for individuals with the same biometric data (fingerprints, in this case).
So, new technology, purchased on a no-bid contract. What's it going to cost?
Hondurans don't know. Madrid said the contract terms are secret, to prevent letting organized crime know the details of the technology.
Some secret. Anyone can use google to find information on what Securiport does.
Madrid told the press he's doing this because it's too easy for people to enter and leave Honduras without the police being able to accurately identify them. He told El Heraldo:
"we are trying to avoid the immigration of members of organized crime, terrorists, drug traffickers, kidnappers, arms traffickers and money launderers that use our country as a center of operations because of the lack of scientific mechanisms of immigration control."
Madrid said that the equipment is to be located at the 23 border crossing points where travelers can legally enter Honduras. Madrid said that the system will, through a satellite connection, bring back real time images of a person's face, and run vehicle identification information based on the license plate.
Such systems of identification are only as good as the databases to which they connect.
The best security would come from connecting to Interpol's SLTD database, a collection of lost and stolen identifications and travel documents as reported to Interpol by national governments. Former Security Minister Oscar Alvarez promised back in July 2011 that Honduras would do this. It's a good database and identified 23,000 people worldwide in 2011 traveling on one of the lost or stolen documents.
But that isn't part of the workflow outlined for customer's on Securiport's website.
Their website explains what their technology does. Fingerprint scanning is done using "ultrasonic imaging". This is both a strength and a weakness of the system. Ultrasonic fingerprint scanning is great. It avoids the distortions introduced by putting your finger on a glass plate, or taking a photograph of your finder tip. It is also said to have the ability to detect "live" versus "dead" skin, avoiding the problems caused by chemical burns and occupational calluses.
Ultrasonically obtained fingerprints are not entirely comparable to those obtained by other methods. Thus, as this manufacturer of ultrasonic fingerprinting chips shows, appropriate applications are for places where you can scan 100% of the population for comparison using the same technology.
What makes it possible for this system to interact with others is a US government project, by way of the National Institute for Science and Technology. This has over the years defined a finger print identification and storage system that constructs a vector based on the ridges, working around the incompatibility of directly comparing images collected by different systems.
This system codes 3 levels of detail. The first level data contains what NIST calls the "flow" of the ridges. The second level encodes the pattern of ridges, recording the paths of ridges, and their sequence. Level three encodes features along individual ridge paths. Recognition is usually performed (in the computer) by reference to just the first, or the first and second levels of data. From these recommendations, a series of International Standards Organization specifications for fingerprint data storage, interchange, and identification were issued.
So, not-so-secret technology.
And even if it were, that wouldn't explain why the contract cost needs to be secret.
So how much will Securiport actually get? That's Madrid's big secret.
Some travelers will now have to pay an additional $34, $17 on entry and another $17 to leave, in a "security tax". Madrid told the press
"Someone has to pay for it."
"This security tax will be applied uniquely and exclusively to international travelers who enter and leave the national territory via the four international airports; they will subsidize the people who enter and leave by land and sea."And that's how we can estimate the actual payoff to Securiport that Madrid doesn't want to reveal.
According to El Heraldo, all of the money collected will be placed in a special account and go to Securiport, about $27 million a year. The contract has a duration of 10 years. $270 million: not bad.
This special security tax was approved by Congress on December 14. They approved the increase in airport exit fees to $60.30, later rolled back by order of Pepe Lobo, around the same time.
All of this secrecy.
The added expense for air travellers-- including all those tourists on whom the country is depending-- leaving Honduras with the highest airport entry and exit fees in Central America.
How many criminals would it take to justify the cost of this contract?