August 5, 2023
Face recognition tech for MPs at new Parliament
Apart from face scans, other biometrics have also been collected from parliamentarians in case the facial recognition system fails.
Among the various dry runs being conducted for protocols at the brand new Parliament building, perhaps the most ambitious is the one with facial recognition-enabled flap-gate entry points for access to the building -- loosely on the lines of DigiYatra at some domestic airports.
The faces of Union ministers, members of Parliament, and top officials have already been scanned to enable these gates to open as soon as they come within six metres of the entrances to the new parliament, officials familiar with the matter told HT.
"The Speaker of Lok Sabha has to decide who else to clear other than this layer for this seamless entry," said an official on condition of anonymity. "Whether their aides will get that clearance or not has to be decided," he added.
While details of the new system have not been disclosed, it is said to work in a similar manner as the DigiYatra system, which includes facial recognition cameras that allow people in based on the scans of their faces and travel details they upload beforehand.
For the new Parliament building, the people cited above added, all other visitors, temporary or permanent, will have to enter using a smart card operating system (SCOSTA). This will have encrypted data, and is currently being developed by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) under the ministry of electronics and information technology.
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Apart from face scans, other biometrics have also been collected from parliamentarians in case the facial recognition system fails and they need to use some other method to enter. “They can use their thumbprint or a unique PIN which will open the barriers for them,” said the official quoted above.
The SCOSTA cards, which will be similar in size to credit cards, will be programmed to only allow categories of personnel into areas for which they have security clearance.
For instance, in the old building, the media could access Parliament’s lobbies and corridors, and those with more than 10 years of continuous reporting, could also access the Central Hall. According to the new system, media cards will allow access to an adjacent North Utility building that will have, among other things, a canteen and a facilities room. However, in the main new Parliament building, the media will only have access to a sitting area and another canteen.
"Parliamentarians can interact with media in this media room but media or officials will not be able to walk down the corridor in this building," said the official.
Access control will also include cordoning off the Prime Minister’s wing for all except those with PMO clearance.
All of this is being weaved into a local navigation system or a mobility app designed especially for the new Parliament building.
Due to the sheer size, covering 64,000 square metres, there are many users who may get lost trying to go from one room to another, officials said. So, the mobility app which is being tried out for now, will guide users to finding their way.
However, high security areas will not be marked clearly in this app. “The Prime Minister wanted the new building to be ultra-modern and that’s why we are using all the modern technology we can,” said the official.
They are expecting outsiders and tourists to drop in too, and for them, there will be three art galleries, including what will be called the India Gallery, and a common area with an installation of a Foucault pendulum.
According to the new system, media cards will allow access to an adjacent North Utility building that will have, among other things, a canteen and a facilities room.