NADRA Shows Pakistan's Edge in IT Services

All the hype about Indian IT sector makes it hard to believe that it is Pakistan, not India, which has widely deployed biometric identification technology to issue multi-purpose national ID cards and e-passports to its citizens. Is this just another case of the proverbial shoemaker's children going barefoot?



In fact, Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to issue biometric national ID cards to 83 million citizens. Pakistan has also issued over 7 million e-passports to its citizens since October, 2004. These Multi-Biometric Electronic Passports, containing an RFID chip, facial and fingerprint images of the passport holder, PKI and other security features are compliant with ICAO standards.



Established in the year 2000, NADRA, the National Database and Registration Authority, is Pakistan's state-owned IT services company that specializes in implementing multi-biometric national identity cards and e-passports, as well as secure access verification and control systems in both public and private sectors. It is recognized among the top 50 IT firms in the world by the ID World Congress.

NADRA's database is among the largest, if not the largest, fully integrated databases in the world that supports both an Automatic Finger Identification System (AFIS) & a Facial Recognition System:

• National Data Warehouse
• Storage Capacity of 60 Terabytes
• Processing Speed of 18 Trillion Instructions/ Sec
• Multilingual Support of English/ Urdu/ Sindhi
• AFIS with a matching speed of 16 million/sec
• World's largest Facial Library of 83 million images (ICAO)
• Network Infrastructure
• Highly redundant, scalable and mission critical
• Connected with more than 8000 computers
• Equipped Terrestrial, VSAT, and DVB RCS/2 network Links

Beyond the national ID cards and passports, other current NADRA projects are motor vehicle registration (VINs or vehicle ID numbers), driver licenses, law enforcement, gun licensing, credit reporting, authentication of various transactions, statistical data, birth/ marriage/ death registration, GIS, e-Governance, disbursement of grants and planning at federal, provincial, district and local government levels using the national database.

NADRA's domestic public sector clients include the Ministry of Interior, Directorate of Immigration and Passports, National Highway Authority, Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehab Authority, UNHCR-Pakistan and Benazir Income Support Program for the poor.

NADRA issued Watan cash cards as part of a recent project to hand out Rs 28.8 billion among 1.527 million flood affected families in rural Pakistan last year. It is now working with the FBR, Pakistan's tax collectors, to catch millions of income tax evaders.

NADRA's corporate clients are Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Charter Bank, PTCL, IESCO, SNGPL and SSGPL.

International clients of NADRA include governments of Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan. NADRA Technologies has recently entered into a agreement with Global Defense, a Turkish company, to pursue biometric IT services opportunities in Turkey and other European and Middle Eastern nations.

PTCL, another state-owned company, is rolling out fast broadband access at low cost, and building data centers in Pakistan to enable cloud computing on a large scale. PTCL has recently started rolling out 50 Mbits/sec broadband service in several cities and towns, and built large data centers in Karachi and Lahore.

IT sector is alive, and it is focusing on solving real problems in Pakistan. And the state-owned enterprises like PTCL and NADRA are building IT infrastructure and developing and deploying information and communication technology to lead the way for both public and private sector companies in the country.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

NADRA Case Study

Pakistan's $2.8 Billion IT Industry

PTCL Data Centers

PTCL's 50 Mbps Broadband Access in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Internet Service Providers of Pakistan

Poverty Reduction Through Telecom Access

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth

WiMax Rollout in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in Pakistan

Smartphones in Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Washington Post Op Ed on social media in Pakistan:

“Social media has actually created a dialogue of opposing thoughts and tries to bring them together to some sort of understanding,” said the Teeth Maestro, a 36-year-old whose real name is Awab Alvi.

There’s no revolution in the works like in Egypt, where young people used Facebook, Twitter and other web tools to organize protests.

But the use of such Internet tools is rising so rapidly in Pakistan that even U.S. officials have taken notice, recently co-sponsoring the country’s first international social media summit. Held in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, it attracted some 200 people.

Pakistan, a country of roughly 187 million, has roughly 20 million Internet users. Its penetration rate is a bit higher than neighbor India but a bit lower than fellow Muslim country Indonesia, according to http://www.internetworldstats.com.

There are at least 4.3 million Facebook users in Pakistan, while Twitter is the ninth most popular web site in the country, according to statistics presented Saturday at the summit.

To be sure, plenty of Pakistan’s bloggers promote anti-U.S. conspiracy theories and Islamist, even pro-militant agendas. One group created an alternative to Facebook catering to Muslims, unhappy with what they say was offensive material on the regular site.

The overall numbers are skewed toward wealthier, educated city dwellers, and most of the Pakistani blogosphere is in English, though Urdu-language use is growing, experts said. But although social media lovers don’t represent Pakistan’s masses, they do represent many of “the elite” who hold the levers of power.

In many small ways, Pakistan’s social media activists already have been making their presence felt.

One of the more famous social media users in Pakistan is Sohaib Athar, the man who unknowingly live-tweeted the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, gaining tens of thousands of new followers and providing witty insight into a stunning news event.

There also have been videos posted on the Internet showing the alleged brutality of the armed forces in Pakistan, outraging civilians and leading to investigations (though rarely with any publicized results). And during nationwide floods in 2010, social media activists helped raise money.

The blogs in particular give Pakistanis a chance to vent, no matter what their philosophy.

Alvi, the dentist, recently posted an entry about the shooting of an unarmed young man by security troops in Karachi. The incident was caught on tape, posted to YouTube and played on television, making him wonder what it would take for the masses to rise up and end such brutalities.

“Could this blatant killing of a young individual (regardless of his innocence or guilt) be the trigger?” he wrote. “Or are we still too occupied at allowing these political and military crooks run our country to smithereens?”

Pakistan’s TV and radio stations remain the dominant force in shaping public discourse, followed by newspapers — especially Urdu-language ones. But employees of mainstream outlets note they still have to worry about some restrictive laws that are less likely to affect social media users.

“We have buildings and offices — we can get burned, we can get bombed,” said Kamal Siddiqi, editor of The Express Tribune newspaper.

He said blogs were a very popular part of his paper’s online edition, a sign of how the mainstream media and the social media are blending.

Pakistani social media activists said they too worry about their security, with some noting wryly that the Internet is also a place for militants to recruit suicide bombers and post tapes of beheadings.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:


Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.
Riaz Haq said…
The Lahore-based Pepper.pk and Five Rivers Technologies made it to the number one spot across all categories on BlackBerry’s AppWorld on August 3 with their game Ninja Fruit Bash, developed for BlackBerry smartphones, according to a report in Express Tribune:

This was the third BlackBerry app developed by the local company to make it to number one on BlackBerry AppWorld.

Their other apps to reach number one include Photo Editor, an app that allows users to edit photographs from their hand-held devices, and LED Notifier, an app that blinks different colored LED for different contacts.

Mahe Zehra Husain, the Head of Operations and Product Management said “We are thrilled at this achievement. We already have two world number one utilities on BlackBerry AppWorld and adding a game to our family shows that not only can good code be developed for software utilities in Pakistan we can actually make amazing games as well!”

Ninja Fruit Bash Storyline

Ninja Fruit Bash follows the quest of a Ninja as he travels across China slicing tainted and poisoned fruit in order to save humanity.

The fruit is poisoned by the evil spirit of Orochi and is fatal if eaten. Orochi has turned fertile fruit gardens all over China into poisonous wasteland and our Ninja is on a mission – to return all the fruit gardens to their former glory.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/224923/pakistan-it-firm-tops-world-ranking-with-blackberry-game/

Here's more from Blackberrycool.com:

There’s a growing trend of taking iOS successes and porting them over to BlackBerry. We believe the trend was started by Smarter-Apps and from a strictly business perspective it makes a lot of sense. Sure, you could spend a long time working on a risky app that may or may not be a success, or you could take something that obviously makes money on another platform and bring it to the 40 million or so BlackBerry users. Considering the huge success of this strategy, as proved by Angry Farm, it makes you realize that a lot of these iOS developers are listening to the analysts more than the users.

Ninja Fruit Bash is the latest in this strategy and they’ve taken the success of Fruit Ninja to BlackBerry users. The app isn’t 100% of the fun you get on the iOS version and there are some limitations on the BlackBerry side such as the fact that not all devices have OpenGL support for 3D graphics. Ninja Fruit Bash on the Torch was a pretty smooth experience and it’s definitely a good start. The company will have to work a little harder to bring more of the user experience and graphics to the game but as a start it’s awesome.

http://www.blackberrycool.com/2011/07/21/ninja-fruit-bash-is-the-latest-ios-success-to-blackberry-clone/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has exported $750 million software solutions last year, according to Pakistan Software Exports Board. This is a huge increase over $169 million reported in 2007-2008.

It should be noted that Pakistan uses BPM5 balance of payments method for reporting software and IT exports, and BPM5 significantly understates the value relative to BPM6 (MSITS) method used by RBI India.

BPM 6 (MSITS) includes sales to multinationals operating within the country, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue.
Riaz Haq said…
NADRA has issued over half a million cards for Rs. 20,000 cash to each flood affected family in Sindh so far, according to The News:

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has said 47 centres of its total 62 centres are operational in six districts, while the other centres have completed their task and are entertaining complaints from genuine applicants who

were unable to get themselves registered for the Pakistan Card.

Nadra Deputy Chairman Tariq Malik pointed out on Friday that Nadra’s centres were working in Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar and Sanghar, while 15 other centres were addressing complaints from those people who did not get themselves registered for Pakistan Cards.

He stated that throughout the process, Nadra ensured strong checks so that only deserving families belonging to the provincially notified calamity-hit areas could obtain the Pakistan Card.

Malik informed that Nadra had so far issued 592,651 Pakistan Cards to heads of rain-affected families in Sindh, 105,455 in Mirpurkhas, 240,227 in Badin, 79,946 in Tando Mohammad Khan and 156,324 in Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), 8,011 in Tando Allahyar and 2,684 in Sanghar.

He said that Nadra had launched a mobile SMS service in collaboration with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and all operating telecom companies to determine a person’s existence in the beneficiary list for the Pakistan Card project to facilitate the rain-affected people in checking the status of their requests.

The eligibility of the applicant for the Pakistan Card can be checked by simply sending his/her CNIC number to the designated short code (i.e. 9777). In response, a text message will be sent from Nadra’s central server confirming CNIC existence in the beneficiary list. The intent to use this service is to assist the provincial and local governments in curtailing the rush at the centres and helping the flood victims by using the technology while this service was for free, he added.

Nadra, in addition to setting up centres, has also mobilised its mobile resources MRVs (Mobile Registration Vans) to process the CNIC for free in all the affected areas in coordination with the public representatives and district administrators, he added. He said that Nadra had also issued 77,833 CNICs for free to flood/rain-hit victims so far.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=77118&Cat=4
Riaz Haq said…
NADRA offers SMS verification service to check flood affectees, according to APP:

Islamabad—National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has initiated a mobile SMS service determine and check existence of flood-affected persons in the beneficiary list for Pakistan Card.

This service has been launched in collaboration with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and all mobile phone operators with the objective to assist provincial and local governments to curtail down rush at the centers and help the flood victims by using technology.

A senior official at NADRA on Monday told APP that the eligibility of the applicant for Pakistan Card can be checked by simply sending his/her Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) number to the designated short code i.e. 9777.

In response, a text message will be sent from NADRA central server confirming CNIC existence in the beneficiary list, the official said and added the Authority ensures strong checks in the software so that only deserving families belonging to provincially notified calamity hit areas could obtain Pakistan Cards. He said the process of issuing Pakistan Cards is in progress as around 598,600 such Cards have been issued to flood affected families in Sindh.

Giving further details, he said around 105,455 Pakistan Cards in Mirpurkhas, 240,227 in Badin, 79,946 in Tando Muhammad Khan and 156,324 in Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), 8011 in Tando Allahyar and 2684 in Sanghar have been issued.

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=125035
Riaz Haq said…
Is India's unique ID scheme unraveling? asks Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

...two years after it launched, a parliamentary committee has given a thumbs-down to the setting up of a statutory National Identification Authority to bolster the scheme. A bill had been introduced in parliament last December to set up the authority.

The committee, in a recent report, raised concerns about access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling and securing confidential information by the government. UID authorities say that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure security and protection of data.

That's not all. There appears to be a valid concern about the possibility of illegal residents getting identification numbers. (The number is not proof of citizenship or residency. It only confirms identity after authentication.)

The parliamentary committee fears that "at a time when the country is facing a serious problem of illegal immigrants and infiltration from across the border", the number was being given out to every resident. "The committee is unable to understand the rationale for expanding the scheme to persons who are not citizens," the report said.

The committee has even questioned the implementation of the scheme, which has been held up as a success story by the authorities. It says it was originally meant for the poorest of the poor and then extended to all residents. But the committee says better-off Indians already possess many other forms of identity, and so asks how the number helps them. Authorities say the number will be a general proof of identity.

Also, the report wonders, how will the poorest of the poor be given numbers? For one, the authorities don't have proper data on the very poor - officially, 37% of India's 1.2 billion people live below the poverty line. But there are various estimates of the exact number of poor in India and one suggests that the true figure could be as high as 77%. So how does the number help in identifying the genuine beneficiaries?

Interestingly, the report points to the shelving of a similar identity project in the UK because of the huge costs, unreliable and untested technology and the risks to the safety and security of citizens. A London School of Economics report says that the UK project could turn out to be a "potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of the individuals".

Nandan Nilekani, head of the Unique Identification Authority of India, believes that the number can transform Indian politics by curbing theft and leakage of public funds. "It would make porous distribution mechanisms and our dependence on the moral scruples of the bureaucrats redundant," he says. But, clearly, a number of crucial questions need to be clarified before India can continue to crunch out the identity numbers.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16177163
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an overview Pakistan IT industry in 2011, as published in Express Tribune:

The year 2011 saw a number of positive developments in Pakistan’s Information and Technology (IT) industry, from app development to global recognition and a series of awards.

HIGHLIGHTS

Pakistan Fast Growth 25

In a first for the IT industry, the Pakistan Fast Growth 25, a ranking of fast growth companies, listed 10 IT companies on its index. The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 is a program of the AllWorld Network in partnership with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, launched in collaboration with JS Bank Limited.

Official Game for ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup

Local development company, Mindstorm Studios developed the official game for the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup.The browser-based 3D game, “Cricket Power” features all 14 official teams along with players, stadiums and kits.

Pak-India ICT Firms to enhance trade up to $5b

Pakistani and Indian IT committees held bilateral talks separately on both sides of borders in March – aimed at enhancing trade ties in the field of IT. In the talks, both countries agreed to boost mutual trade in the IT sector by $5 billion through joint-ventures, investment and exchange of expertise.

Netsol deal in India

Local ICT company Netsol engaged with Indian companies to provide applications for financial services. It signed an agreement to sell its product “Netsol Financial Suite” to a global auto leasing company operating in India.

Google grants to social innovators

In another first for Pakistan, Google has granted seed money to a local association for social causes.

Google granted $250,000 to Pakistan Software Houses Association that launched Pasha Fund for distributing the amount to talented innovators. So far four individuals were selected to receive funds.

Pepper.pk mobile apps triumph

Local app developers, Pepper.pk hit the number one spot in Blackberry App World. Their application, LED Notifier Pro, has been immensely popular since its launch and ranked among the best selling Blackberry applications in the world. Additionally, their app, Photo Editor for BlackBerry has occupied the number one rank on App World twice in the past three months.

TenPearls wins Nokia contest twice

Pakistani IT firm TenPearls marked another record, beating out 800 entrants to bag second position and received a $50,000 cash prize at ‘Nokia & AT&T Innovators 2011 Contest’.

This is the second award TenPearls has received for its mobile app named “Animal 101” within a year. Their first award was first prize for their app uTrack mobile earlier in 2011 for the same platform in Pakistan.

Pakistan Shines at APICTA

Pakistan was declared the winner of two gold and five silver awards at the 11th annual Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pakistani firms secured two gold awards in the e-health and e-logistics and SCM categories and five silvers in the communication, financial, security, e-inclusion and e-community and e-government categories.

Pakistan’s team comprised of 18 products which competed against 162 different products from the Asia Pacific region.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/317436/2011-pakistan-it-industrys-golden-year/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report on the success of identity management in Pakistan:

Tens of thousands of people flock to Nadra centres across Pakistan each day to apply for fresh cards, renew the old ones or get their personal information corrected.
"This is one of the world's largest national databases”

Tariq Malik Deputy Chairman of Nadra

They need these cards as the basic document for a wide range of activities: opening a bank account, finding a job, getting admission in a college or a university, registering as a voter, getting a passport, buying or selling property, setting up a business.

Pakistan's experience with identity management dates back to 1973, when the eastern part of the country had just seceded and questions were being raised over who was a Pakistani and who was not.

So a registration act was introduced in the parliament to create an authority that would register Pakistani citizens and issue them with a photo ID.

In 2001, this authority was merged with a national database organisation to create Nadra, with the task of computerising all citizen data.

In 2007, Nadra introduced what is known as the multi-biometric system, consisting of finger identification and facial identification data that was to be included in the citizen's computer profile.

"By now, Nadra has issued 91 million computer generated cards, which is 96% of the entire adult population," says Nadra deputy chairman Tariq Malik.

"This is one of the world's largest national databases."

"During the last 40 years, we have graduated from identity management to database management, and we have now entered an era in which we can make intelligent use of this database to make our economic and political processes transparent and also to roll out services to the citizens," he says.

For example, Nadra has been using this database to identify mutilated bodies of the victims of a suicide bombing or an air crash.

It also uses it to identify people affected by natural disasters or groups below poverty line who need to be listed for the government's financial inclusion programmes.

Following the 2010 floods, the government used this information to disburse nearly 55 billion rupees ($586m; £381m) of donor funds to more than 2.4 million affected families.

"They were issued automated teller machine (ATM) cards with pin codes to draw cash from "virtual" accounts even though most of them had never opened a bank account in their lives," says Mr Malik.

More recently, Nadra cleaned up Pakistan's voters' list, expunging some 37 million "fake" voters from it and adding more than 36 million new adults who had not been registered.

It now plans to set up a short message service (SMS) to tell voters exactly which polling station they are registered at.

"This will disenfranchise the 'powers' that used fake votes and ghost polling stations to engineer elections throughout Pakistan's chequered electoral history," Mr Malik says.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18101385
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an IBM press release in Sacramento Bee on its contract for mobile banking technology in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Monet, one of Pakistan's leading mobile-commerce providers, has selected a customized IBM cloud-based solution that will enable the company to enhance service efficiency and expand its presence across the country.

Launched in 2012, Monet provides banks, mobile network operators and branchless banking agents in Pakistan with a technology platform that offers end-users a simple interface through which they can access a wide range of financial services on their mobile phones.

Mobile banking and financial services are expected to grow significantly in Pakistan in the coming years. Increased demand for affordable banking, a lack of traditional banking infrastructure and an aggressive branchless banking mandate from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has driven quick uptake of mobile banking in the country.

With a population of 180 million, a mobile phone penetration of more than 70% and a banked ratio of only 22%, Pakistan offers a large potential market for Mobile Financial Services (MFS). According to an SBP recent branchless banking newsletter, the number of mobile banking accounts was at 1.45 million, showing a growth of 37% during the second quarter of 2012, with new level zero account openings registering a jump of 370%. The existing accounts activity level also improved substantially during the quarter as the number of active accounts increased by 66%.1

To capture this opportunity, Monet chose IBM to develop a unique IT environment allowing the company to offer reliable and efficient services to a growing customer base throughout the country.

"Mobile financial services have reached an inflection point where they have moved from niche to mainstream," said Ali Abbas Sikander, CEO, Monet. "We believe mobile can potentially become the strongest channel for the delivery of financial services. IBM's cloud solution will allow us to reach our clients easily, giving us access to a wider base of customers and ultimately extending the reach of financial services in the country."

IBM will develop a specialized solution based on IBM SmartCloud technology, to deploy Monet's mobile banking applications from Fundamo, a leading mobile financial services platform provider and an IBM partner. The private cloud will allow Monet to save on initial investments in IT and help the company offer more efficient services at a reduced cost.

IBM SmartCloud infrastructure is based on IBM servers, storage and software optimized to meet growing mobile demand. In addition, Monet has outsourced the entire networking, security, cryptographic solutions, and disaster recovery to IBM, in order to focus on its core business.

"Mobile and Cloud are a powerful combination to provide sustainable and affordable banking services to millions of people in Pakistan," said Adnan Siddiqui, CGM, IBM Pakistan and Afghanistan. "IBM has global experience in the financial services sector and a thorough understanding of the local market, and our engagement with Monet is expected to benefit banking customers across the country."..


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/01/4953392/leading-pakistan-mobile-banking.html

http://www.monet-online.com/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of MIT Technology Review piece on controlling dengue fever outbreak using smartphones in Lahore, Pakistan:

Last year, the city of Lahore, Pakistan, was hit with the worst outbreak of dengue fever in its history. The mosquito-transmitted disease infected some 16,000 people and took 352 lives. This year was a completely different story. There were only 234 confirmed cases and no deaths. The magnitude of the disease varies year to year, but some of the turnaround could be credited to a new system of tracking and predicting outbreaks in the region.

Researchers working for the Pakistani government developed an early epidemic detection system for their region that looked for telltale signs of a serious outbreak in data gathered by government employees searching for dengue larvae and confirmed cases reported from hospitals. If the system’s algorithms spotted an impending outbreak, government employees would then go to the region to clear mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae. “Getting early epidemic predictions this year helped us to identify outbreaks early,” says Umar Saif, a computer scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, and a recipient of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 award in 2011.

“This year, because of the tracking system and the efforts of government employees on the ground, we could look at a map and tell if certain areas were going to develop into an epidemic,” says Saif, who has been working with the government during a sabbatical. “The key is to be able to localize and quarantine a disease like this and prevent it from developing into an epidemic,” he says.

The groundwork for the early detection system was another project headed by Saif: Flubreaks. This system processes data from Google Flu Trends, which estimates the spread of flu based on search terms related to the disease. “That whole idea of being able to scrape digital data has helped us find outbreaks faster,” says Mark Smolinski, director of Global Health Threats at Skoll Global Threats Fund, a nonprofit that recently helped launch a site called Flu Near You, which tracks flu based on a weekly electronic survey that asks people about their health and any flu symptoms.

Smolinski was part of the team at Google to develop Google Flu Trends, which he says can speed up outbreak identification. “You can gain a couple of weeks just by aggregating data of search terms on the Internet,” he says.

While Google Flu Trends identifies outbreaks as they occur, Flubreaks can see them before they start by teasing out global flu trends and making early epidemic predictions.

The results from Flubreaks closely matched actual outbreaks reported by the Centers for Disease Control, says Saif. “We found that idea very exciting,” says Saif. Countries like Pakistan typically do not have a well established disease surveillance network, he says. “We want one for dengue in Pakistan, but it’s a very expensive and difficult thing to manage.”
----------
The dengue monitoring system relies on real-world field testing of mosquito larvae and reports from hospitals to predict where dengue outbreaks are starting. If a certain neighborhood is suspected to be at the beginning of an outbreak, then government officials could search out mosquito-larvae reservoirs such as pools of water that are likely causing the problem.

The system was put to use this summer. Using 1,500 Android phones, government workers in the region tracked the location and timing of confirmed dengue cases and the mosquito larvae that carry the disease. Each case was tagged by time and location. “Because of the Android phones, we could localize the outbreak to a couple of hundred houses. Inevitably, we would find some water in or near these houses.” ....


http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506276/pakistan-uses-smartphone-data-to-head-off-dengue-outbreak/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Reuters' story on benefits of Pak biometric ID cards:

Elderly men wait patiently, carefully combing their hennaed beards, while a guitar-playing student entertains the long queue of Pakistanis lined-up to be photographed, fingerprinted and questioned inside a crowded office in the capital Islamabad.
--
...bureaucrats say the successful ID registration has dramatically cut the number of ghost voters and is assisting in the distribution of cash payments for the poor and displaced.

"The database has brought a lot of transparency. We signed up so many people," said Tariq Malik, the 44-year-old chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

During elections five years ago, less than half of Pakistani adults had a government-issued ID. Now 91 percent have the plastic green cards, said Malik, who previously worked as a county technology officer in Michigan in the United States.

It is hard to verify such a high rate of registration as Pakistan's census data is many years out of date.

Malik said registration spiked after the cards were required for poor Pakistanis to qualify for cash payments from the government.

However, some families, while grateful for the cash, say the flow of aid is sporadic.

"One year ago when I received a card, I got 2,000 rupees. They come after every two to three months and give a little bit of money. Now they come only after six to seven months and only give 3,000 rupees," said Hanifa Meer Beher, 6o, who lives in Karachi's coastal belt Kaka-pir village.

"This money is not enough and it has not made my life any better. I am a poor woman. Whenever I receive this money, I buy a little bit of flour, rice...I am grateful that I am getting something."

International donors like the World Bank, who are using the ID database for cash distributions, say they are happy with the system.

The bank helps fund a program where around 5.5 million poor families who have registered with NADRA get $10 a month.

"More countries are using cash transfers because poor families can choose what to buy and are more likely to get the money on time than aid given in other ways," said a World Bank spokesman.

Neighbouring India helps its poor via subsidized food or fuel, but much of its aid is stolen and ends up on the black market. Recent efforts to link benefits to identity cards there have been chaotic.

GHOST VOTERS, TAX CHEATS

Pakistan's new ID registrations helped eliminate 37 million ghost voters and add around 44 million real people to electoral roles, said Malik, adding voters can now use their ID number to check their registration by text message. A date has not yet been set for the next election, due in the first half 2013.

In future, the ID database may also help in the fight against tax evasion, fraud and crime, but only if the government uses the information, say sceptics like tax expert Ikramul Haq.

In a country where less than one percent of citizens pay income tax, NADRA has identified more than 2 million rich tax cheats, Malik said.

The federal board of revenue estimates tax evasion means as much as US$50 billion is missing from the treasury, money that could be used to upgrade crumbling schools and hospitals.

But so far, Pakistan's wealthy tax cheats remain untouched, yet authorities, mindful of pressure from the International Monetary Fund, are making noises about cracking down.

"We have so many enemies. The rich, who are not accustomed to pay taxes, pension cartels, politicians who want their voters to get benefits they are not entitled to," said Malik.

Registering Pakistan's 180 million population, spread from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas, meant sending mobile registration vans and skiers laden with bulky equipment to far-flung villages and setting up booths at fairs....


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/22/us-pakistan-identity-idUSBRE8AL0Y620121122
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune piece on how the Punjab govt in Pakistan is using smartphones ad mobile apps:

As our anti-dengue campaign progressed, we bought 1,500 Android phones and kept refining our applications. The system was used by 17 different government departments and hundreds of field workers, and we have received over 200,000 pictures from all over Punjab. We developed more applications that enabled field entomologists to report Aedes Larvae clusters, as well as health workers to GPS tag the houses of the confirmed patients. With this data flowing in, we built a state-of-the-art epidemic early warning system, which statistically analysed the larvae reports and patient locations, and raised red flags wherever it detected a potential outbreak. This information was promptly shared with the local government to help it target its activities in the most vulnerable areas.
This system has led to a full-blown real-time disease surveillance system in Punjab, tracking all 26 WHO notifiable infectious diseases. Cross-verification of data from our dashboard has become a common practice in the government. The system has been featured by the MIT Technology Review, The Economist, NPR and BBC.
Encouraged by the success of our system for tracking disease outbreaks, the PITB has been working on numerous applications to help the government monitor its own work. Drug inspectors now carry our smartphones to report their visits to pharmacy outlets; visits of livestock EDOs are tracked using our smartphone applications; Lahore police uses our smartphone applications to analyse crime hotspots; agriculture extension workers report their activities using our smartphone applications; the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) uses smartphone applications to report its cleaning activities after Eidul Azha; this year, monitoring of Hajj facilities for pilgrims was done using our smartphone-based applications. Such is the adoption of our systems that over 25,000 geo-tagged activities were uploaded by the LWMC during the three-day Eid campaign a few days ago. And the chief minister Punjab personally reviewed this data, after every hour!
Going forward, we are developing a platform, in collaboration with the World Bank, which would enable people without an IT background to generate a monitoring application by simply dragging-and-dropping components. We are experimenting with increasingly advanced features. For example, our application for the irrigation department is designed such that the picture of a depth-metre is automatically processed to extract the level of water in a canal — making it difficult to hide the theft of irrigation water in tail canals.
Our model of mobile governance, or m-governance, is quickly taking root in Punjab. The rapid adoption, level of innovation and sophistication of our evolving systems is unprecedented in public sector organisations, especially in developing countries. In the coming year, seven major government departments will heavily start using our smartphone-based monitoring systems — employing over 30,000 smartphones. If we manage to keep our momentum, Pakistan may become one of the leading examples of innovations in m-governance.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/631041/punjabs-model-of-m-governance/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times report on biometric verification of SIM cards for cellular phones in Pakistan:

Zong has become the first mobile operator in Pakistan to implement Biometric Verification System (BVS) at their customer service centres. The installation of the Biometric Verification System displays the commitment of Zong towards Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) directives, highlighting its compliance and contributions to the national policies implementation.

SIM verification mechanisms were first introduced in Pakistan in 2007-2008. Initially, all the SIMs were verified by NADRA through an offline channel. In 2009, a new method was introduced where customers had to call 789 after inserting their SIM for the first time and verify their NADRA record to activate their SIM. From 2009 to 2012, a SMS-based SIM verification process was introduced in four different phases. However, none of these measures helped PTA overcome the problem of unregistered SIMs. Hence, PTA is now encouraging telecom operators to start offering biometric system to have a foolproof system to curtail unregistered SIMs.

The new verification system introduced by Zong will require each citizen to approach the retailer, franchisee or customer service centres of Zong and provide their fingerprints for authentication against CNIC data held with NADRA. Upon verification, the SIM will be activated. The entire operation will be performed online and it will take 15 seconds for the whole process to complete.

PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah commended Zong for being the first telecom operator to introduce Biometric SIM Verification System. He said, “PTA is dedicated to curbing sale of illegal SIMs in Pakistan for which it is working with all the industry stakeholders to ensure seamless implementation of Biometric SIM Verification System. We have defined a set of SOPs for the rollout of this technology through which sale of SIMs will be done in a more secure manner.” The first SIM activated at Zong’s customer care centre through the Biometric Verification System was given to PTA DG Enforcement Abdus Samad.

The system was demonstrated real-time to the leading journalists and the media community by Zong CPO Sikander Naqi. On the occasion he said: “Zong is fully committed for the enhancement and improvement of security protocols in the telecommunication industry. Therefore, we have exhibited our corporate responsibility by establishing the Biometric Verification System at our customer care centres. This technology will be gradually inducted across all franchises and customer care centres of Zong around the country.”

Since earlier this year, PTA and the government of Pakistan have emphasised the need to setup technological measures to ensure the protection of customer information and to curb the selling of illegal SIMS in the country. In the wake for boosting national security and addressing the ministries concern, Zong has become the torch-bearer in Pakistan’s telecom industry stepping up to the arduous task under the guidelines issued by PTA and with the support of NADRA.

Pakistan has a growing cellular market and the adoption of fingerprint matching technology by cellular operators shall reduce the risk of SIM issuance against fake identity to almost zero and safeguard the sale of illegal SIMs in the country.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C11%5C29%5Cstory_29-11-2013_pg5_9
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is poised to crack down on cyber crime as part of an effort to enhance digital commerce in the country, according to an article in The Nation. Senator Ishaq Dar, the country’s Finance Minister, announced yesterday that new legislation is forthcoming.

Senator Dar highlighted the importance of branch-less banking for Pakistan’s economy, and argued that electronic banking could reduce the rates of fraud while providing greater financial access to the most underprivileged segments of the nation. He said that the government’s efforts “to improve market structure and efficiency through modern infrastructure… will create jobs for lower income people, facilitate poverty alleviation, and promote human capital development.”

The minister also highlighted a new agreement between the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as a part of this effort; the agreement is to implement biometric identification methods into banking services nationwide, an effort similar to one recently undertaken in Nigeria that will undoubtedly go a long way towards enhancing the security of digital banking. Pakistan’s efforts in these regards also echo those of its neighbor India, where the government is compiling a biometric registry of citizens to help facilitate a range of government services including provision of health care.

http://findbiometrics.com/pakistan-embraces-digital-banking-in-bid-for-growth/
Riaz Haq said…
Collecting, storing and processing structured and unstructured information is an endeavor that is both massive and meticulous. But thanks to advancing big data technology, it’s more feasible today than ever before. BIG Data can now be leveraged for a variety of public uses, and re-uses. It can strengthen the link between citizens and state to enhance state capacity, and its applications are varied—ranging from disaster management to social service delivery.


Consider Pakistan’s National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) that houses one of the world’s largest multi-biometric citizens database, consisting of ten fingerprints, digital photographs and biographic attributes of each citizen. More than 121 million identities are stored in this database. When floods suddenly hit Pakistan in 2010, over 20 million citizens were displaced. Government wanted to provide monetary subsistence and aid for the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort; however, the problem was that while traditional aid could be dropped via helicopter, cash could not. They were further challenged with verifying claimants; specifically, identifying whether or not they belonged to a calamity hit area.

How could Pakistan support those affected by the disaster? The NADRA had a simple task to perform: cross verify citizen thumb prints with information stored in its database, then check their permanent address. The result was nothing short of miraculous. Essentially, big data allowed policymakers to know who the victims were and where they lived at the time of the crisis. Smart cards were quickly loaded with cash to help victims with rehabilitation efforts. More than $1 billion U.S. was disbursed without a single misappropriated penny. The process was swift and transparent, and international auditors were taken aback.

All of this made international aid donors happy, since it cut down their cost of administration, eliminated doubts of corruption and narrowed the trust deficit. But more importantly, the state enforced its writ and citizens realized for the first time that the state is there for them in times of need.

Tax Accountability


At last count, just 800,000 of Pakistan’s 180 million people paid direct taxes. Integrating data across various government databases, then reconciling it with the citizen database along with NADRA big data analytics helped identify 3.5 million tax evaders. It is estimated that if a basic minimum tax rate were applied, Pakistan would have $3.5 billion right away. Although big data analytics is no substitute for radical reform, it at least generates a healthy debate for tax reform.

It’s been argued that state capacity is essentially “extractive capacity”; the ability to effectively tax its citizens and plough it back for public welfare. Advanced data analytics on big data provides an important linchpin in this ongoing debate. As NADRA’s experience illustrates, many fragile states face an even more basic challenge: the ability to accurately count and register its citizens. To collect and process big data in a way that does not compromise citizen privacy can have powerful development externalities, including the ability to build state capacity through tax collection—and avoid approaching the International Monetary Fund with a begging bowl.

Big data analytics for government is a rapidly evolving field, offering exciting opportunities that, when explored and applied, can help fragile states uncover powerful and effective methods for optimizing governance.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/teradata/2015/01/30/big-data-in-governments-service-to-citizens-and-state/
Riaz Haq said…
Has Nilekani followed Pakistan’s NADRA in creating, enforcing Aadhaar?

Let us ponder over few questions:-

Is it a coincident that the task of Tariq Malik of NADRA, Pakistan and those of Nandan Nilekani, C Chandramouli and VS Sampath appear similar?

Is it also a coincidence that Tariq Malik of NADRA and Nilekani were awarded in Milan, Italy based ID World Congress for their similar work? Nilekani is simply following the footprints of Malik.

Isn’t there a design behind persuading and compelling developing countries to biometrically profile their citizens?

Is it too early to infer that international bankers, UN agencies and western military alliances wish to create profiles in their biometric and electronic database for coercive use of social control measures?

Is it not true that uninformed citizens, parliamentarians and gullible government agencies are too eager to be profiled and tracked through an online database?

Would freedom fighters and framer of constitution of India have approved of mass surveillance by any national or transnational agency?

In the US, the budget for intelligence gathering in 2013 was $52.6 billion. Out of which $10.8 billion went to the National Security Agency (NSA). It is about $167 per person. Do Indians know the budget allocation for their intelligence? Why have they been kept in dark about it?

Aren’t allocations for UIDAI, NPR and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) part of it?

Is it not clear that UN agencies, World Bank Group, transnational intelligence companies and military alliances are working in tandem to create the bio-electronic database of Indians as per their pre-determined design? Is this design structured to safeguard the interest of present and future generation of Indians?

http://www.moneylife.in/article/has-nilekani-followed-pakistans-nadra-in-creating-enforcing-aadhaar-ndashpart-33/37124.html


Comment: Just adding on to Tariq Malik's achievements at NADRA, that guy has designed an electronic voting system based on bio metrics that can make online voting possible and eliminate ghost and duplicate voter from the system and that's one of reason he was removed/forced resign by current Pak government. But author here is blindsided by hatred against UID/NPR that they don't mind using anything against UID and it's stakeholders...great going ML but people are also getting smarter
Riaz Haq said…
On June 5, 2009, the Prime Minister's Office issued a release through Press Information Bureau stating, 'The Cabinet today approved the creation of the position of Chairperson, Unique Identification Authority of India. The Prime Minister has invited Shri Nandan Nilekani, currently Co-Chairman Infosys, to join the UIDAI as Chairperson in the rank of Cabinet Minister.'
Mukherjee had said in his speech, 'The UIDAI will set up an online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residents and provide enrolment and verification services across the country.' What is not disclosed is that in Draft Land Titling Bill too there is a reference to Unique Property Identification Number.
Nilekani, in a ministerial status of the Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, is promoting a 'solutions architecture' by advancing the logic of Hernando de Sotto's book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else through his own book Imagining India arguing that a national ID system would be a big step for land markets to facilitate the right to property to bring down poverty!
Who is hiding the real motive of the UID number from the citizens of India? Does 'online database' of residents of India safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic?
The UID number is linked to Islamabad-based National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) that was established in March 2000 to provide integrated homeland security solutions in Pakistan.
Earlier, it was established as a National Database Organisation (NDO), a department under the Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan, in 1998.
On March 10, 2000, NDO & Directorate General of Registration (DGR) merged to form NADRA, an independent corporate body with requisite autonomy to operate independently and facilitate good governance.
With the mandate of developing a system for re-registering 150 million citizens, NADRA launched the Multi-Biometric National Identity Card project developed in conformance with international security documentation issuance practices in the year 2000.
The programme replaced the paper-based Personal Identity System of Pakistan that had been in use since 1971.This year is also quite important.
To date over 96 million citizens in Pakistan and abroad have utilised the system and its allied services to receive tamper-resistant ISO-standard identification documents.
NADRA has developed solutions based on biometrics and RFID technology and has the largest IT infrastructure in Pakistan with highly qualified technical and managerial resources enabling NADRA to provide customized solutions to any country.
Is there any development indicator that suggests that citizens or residents in Pakistan have benefited from the UID version (the Multi-Biometric National Identity Card project) there?
Senior officials of NADRA and UIDAI like Tariq Malik and Nandan Nilekani have been awarded by ID World International Congress, the Global Summit on Automatic Identification in Milan, Italy which is sponsored by agencies like American Bank Note Company and a French biometric technology company, Morpho, which is the Safran group's security unit. The Safran group has got contracts from UIDAI too.

http://www.countercurrents.org/krishna310711.htm`
Riaz Haq said…
A Washington Post report released earlier this week shed light on the Pakistani government’s incredibly ambitious plan to make it impossible to own a cellphone without providing biometric data to the government. As part of its plan, the Pakistani government will force phone service providers to terminate service for anyone who fails to provide fingerprints for use in a national database. As the report details, the government initiative is an outside-the-box attempt to make terrorism preventable and detectable in Pakistan. Pakistan suffers scores of deadly terror attacks every year at the hands of radical militant groups. Although the Pakistani military embarked on a major anti-terror offensive last year, Pakistan’s police and security apparatus remains woefully unequipped to prevent attacks.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority estimates there are at least 136 million cellphone subscribers in Pakistan. Pakistan, like other South Asian states, has witnessed explosive growth in personal cellphone ownership; in 2003 only 5 million Pakistanis owned cellphones.

Nawaz Sharif’s government has been under considerable pressure to appear strong on terrorism ever since the Taliban brutally murdered over 100 Pakistani school children at a school in Peshawar. If Sharif’s government wanted to show every Pakistani household that it was doing something, it chose the right way to do it. Pakistanis far and wide have taken notice of the government plan and are lining up to provide fingerprints lest they lose their connectivity. According to the report, “53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million residents have been verified through biometric screening.”

While the government’s plan appears to be serious and sufficiently “21st century” with its focus on cellphone activity, it is highly unlikely that Pakistani police and security agencies will be able to usefully leverage the biometric data gained through this initiative to prevent terror attacks. What the database will do is make it easier to track terror culprits after the fact.

Practicality aside, the initiative does raise some concerns about privacy. The Post article features a series of quotes by Ammar Jaffi, the former deputy director of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, that suggest the government has little interest in preserving convenience or privacy. Jaffri, for example, notes that Pakistanis should simply accept that a cellphone and SIM card are a “part of you,” adding that collecting biometric data on cellphone users is something Pakistan “shouldn’t be afraid of.” “Watching people when they move, it’s natural: Every country does it,” he adds. The Post report suggests that Pakistan’s terror-weary population is eager to try anything to prevent more attacks. After the brutality that befell Peshawar in December, the Pakistani public is desperate for a solution.

------

Still, anything the government can do to make communication and coordination more difficult for terrorists is a good thing. The United States has long been eager to see Pakistan take up the issue of domestic terrorism and it finally seems to be doing so. U.S. intelligence agencies have the necessary competencies and experience to make effective sense of large biometric databases, particularly given the proliferation of biometric information collection following 9/11 across the country. They should share best practices with Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency. Even if the skeptics prove right and this initiative is nothing more than an attempt by the Sharif government to be seen as doing “something” to combat terrorism, the resulting database, with the right analytical infrastructure, could prove immensely useful for counter-terrorism.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/02/will-pakistans-cellphone-biometric-push-pay-counter-terrorism-dividends/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistanis-face-a-deadline-surrender-fingerprints-or-give-up-cellphone/2015/02/23/de995a88-b932-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_story.html
Riaz Haq said…

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Cellphones didn’t just arrive in Pakistan. But someone could be fooled into thinking otherwise, considering the tens of millions of Pakistanis pouring into mobile phone stores these days.

In one of the world’s largest — and fastest — efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered cellphone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don’t, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in cellphone usage here.

Prompted by concerns about a proliferation of illegal and untraceable SIM cards, the directive is the most visible step so far in Pakistan’s efforts to restore law and order after Taliban militants killed 150 students and teachers at a school in December. Officials said the six terrorists who stormed the school in Peshawar were using cellphones registered to one woman who had no obvious connection to the attackers.

[Related: After years of delays, Pakistan cracks down on violent Islamists]

But the effort to match one person to each cellphone number involves a jaw-dropping amount of work. At the start of this year, there were 103 million SIM cards in Pakistan — roughly the number of the adult population — that officials were not sure were valid or properly registered. And mobile companies have until April 15 to verify the owners of all of the cards, which are tiny chips in cellphones that carry a subscriber’s personal security and identity information.

In the past six weeks, 53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million residents have been verified through biometric screening, officials said.

“Once the verification of each and every SIM is done, coupled with blocking unverified SIMs, the terrorists will no longer have this tool,” said a senior Interior Ministry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the government’s security policy. “The government knows that it’s an arduous job, both for the cellular companies and their customers, but this has to be done as a national duty.”

As Pakistan’s decade-long struggle against Islamist extremism has stretched on, residents have grown accustomed to hassles such as long security lines and police checkpoints. Now they must add the inconvenience of rushing into a retail store to keep their phones on.

“I spend all day working and sometimes have to work till late in the night. . . . I cannot afford to stand in line for hours to have my SIM verified,” said Abid Ali Shah, 50, a taxi driver who was waiting to be fingerprinted at a cellphone store. “But if I don’t do it, my phone is my only source of communication that I have to remain in touch with my family.”

Though Pakistan’s first cellphone company launched in 1991, there was only sparse usage until the turn of the 21st century. Since then, the number of cellphone subscribers has grown from about 5 million in 2003 to about 136 million today, according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

The mobile phone subscription rate now stands at about 73 percent, roughly equal to the rate in neighboring India, according to the World Bank. It’s even common for Pakistanis in remote or mountainous areas, where electricity can be sporadic and few have access to vehicles, to own a cellphone.

With 50 million more SIM cards left to be verified, phone companies are dispatching outreach teams deep into the countryside and mountains to notify customers of the policy.

“It’s a massive, nationwide exercise with a tight deadline, but hopefully we will be able to verify our customers by the April deadline,” said Omar Manzur, an executive at Mobilink, which has 38 million customers in Pakistan. “We have sent out 700 mobile vans all across Pakistan to reach out to these far-flung areas, the villages and small towns.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistanis-face-a-deadline-surrender-fingerprints-or-give-up-cellphone/2015/02/23/de995a88-b932-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has given the deadline of Dec 20 to all operators to introduce the biometric system in the country, except Karachi. For Karachi, the deadline is Nov 30. All the five operators have made arrangements to meet the deadline.
“The operators have agreed to meet the deadline and the foolproof biometric system will be in place at their outlets by the end of next month,” a PTA spokesman told Dawn on Thursday. He said a SIM would be issued after getting a thumb impression of the applicant and subsequent verification by the National Database and Registration Authority.
A Ufone spokesperson claims that it is fully equipped to launch the biometric verification system in Karachi by Nov 30 and at all its customer service centres and franchise outlets across the country by Dec 20.
The installation of the system at around 70,000 to 75,000 retail points across Pakistan may cost about Rs2.8 billion.
In 2008, the PTA had introduced a SIM ownership verification system 667. A customer was required to provide the original CNIC and a thumb print to get a SIM. In 2009, verification system 668 was launched. It is a process to verify how many SIMs are registered against one CNIC. The subscriber can block a SIM not in his or her use.
The same year 789 system was introduced in which a customer has to make a call and answer a few questions like mother’s maiden name and the place of birth recorded by Nadra at the time of issuance of CNIC.
According to PTA, both 668 and 789 would remain in place after the installation of the biometric verification system.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1059299
Riaz Haq said…
Almost every Pakistani citizen has a cellphone, but from now on, Big Brother is checking to make sure their name, number and fingerprints are on record. The measures are meant to tighten control of cellphones and avert their use for militant attacks after the Taliban massacre two months ago at a school in Peshawar.

Since the new measure was announced earlier this year, Pakistanis have been lining up at cellphone stores and in front of mobile vans and kiosks around the country to scan their fingerprints and verify their identities in order to keep their phones.

They have to show their IDs and fingerprints. If the scanner matches their print with the one in a government database, they can keep their SIM card. If not, or if they don't show up, their cellphone service is cut off.

In a country where many people get by without electricity, heat or running water, cellphones are one of the few technological advances that are so ubiquitous that most people cannot imagine their lives without one.

The Dec. 16 Pakistani Taliban attack on the school in Peshawar, which killed 150 people, most of them schoolchildren, shocked the nation.

It was a watershed that prompted a series of government measures, including intensifying a military offensive launched in June against militant strongholds. Authorities also introduced military courts to try terrorism-related suspects and stepped up financial monitoring to make it harder for militants to transfer money.

As for cellphones, the government last year introduced biometric machines designed to check users' identities — making the check mandatory for anyone who wants to get a new SIM card.

But in the wake of the Peshawar attack, they're now checking all users, regardless of when they got their SIM card, to make sure those who have been issued a SIM card are actually the ones using it. The project has been portrayed as a way to curb the use of cellphones by militants and criminals in planning or carrying out attacks.

In explaining the measure, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told lawmakers earlier this month that he was sure the terrorists "will lose a big weapon."

A police official investigating the Peshawar attack said at least two of the SIM cards recovered from the scene were issued under the names of two residents of Punjab province. The two later told authorities their names were misused. The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the investigation.

There are about 103 million SIM card holders in Pakistan and the goal is to re-check everyone by April 13, said Kurram Mehran, a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Pakistan's five cellular companies worked with the PTA to install fingerprint scanning devices around the country, Mehran said. Already about 60 million SIM cards have been verified and 7 million blocked, he said. Punjab province chief minister Shahbaz Sharif said Wednesday that it was costing the government "millions of rupees."

It's not clear whether this will affect foreigners as well, or how many foreigners residing in Pakistan have cellphones from local providers. Amir Pasha, a spokesman for one of the providers, Ufone, said that so far they are only verifying Pakistanis with national ID cards.

Cellphone companies have launched advertising campaigns and sent mobile vans around the country to win the people over. Their websites warn SIM card holders of impending cutoff dates.

Some Pakistanis are frazzled at the added bureaucracy, while others agree the measure could help curb illegal cellphone usage.

------


http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/02/26/pakistan-tightens-cellphone-control-after-taliban-massacre
Riaz Haq said…
The biometric verification of SIM cards is in full swing across the country as one of the world’s largest and fastest efforts to collect biometric information gets underway.
The federal government concerned by an increase in illegal and untraceable SIMs had earlier ordered cellphone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database, with failure to do so leading to a cut off from the cellular network – an option unthinkable to many.
Read: Fight against terrorism: Defining moment
The national database is being compiled as part of the government’s 20-point plan to curb terrorism in the wake of the December 16 Peshawar school attack.
Read: Our darkest hour
Officials said the Taliban gunmen who stormed the army-run school killing 150 people, including 133 children, were using cellphones registered to one woman who had no obvious connection to the attackers.
Cellular companies have been given till April 15 to verify the owners of 103 million SIMs issued in the country, according to the Washington Post.
Read: SIM verification: First phase to begin on January 12
In the past six weeks, 53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million have been verified through biometric screening.
National Action Plan: 53 million SIMs verified via biometric system
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Syed Ismail Shah has said the remaining 49 million SIMs will be verified within 91 days.
The biometric verification system was introduced in August 2014, therefore, the SIMs registered before the system came into force would have to go through the verification process.
Read: Biometric SIM verification: a threat or opportunity for cellular firms?
“Once the verification of each and every SIM is done, coupled with blocking unverified SIMs, the terrorists will no longer have this tool,” a senior Interior Ministry official, told the Washington Post. “The government knows that it’s an arduous job, both for the cellular companies and their customers, but this has to be done as a national duty.”
In the past six weeks, 53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million residents have been verified through biometric screening, officials said.
Mobilink with around 32 per cent of the country’s cellular customers, has verified more than 15 million SIM cards in the past two weeks — costing it $15 million, according to NBC News.
“We’ve tried to reach far and wide, especially the villages, deploying hundreds of vans and kiosks to ensure people have enough time and access to register,” Mobilink spokesperson Omar Manzur said.
“However, Pakistanis have large families, and users have a habit of buying multiple SIMs,” he added.
Omar further said the verification is a massive, nationwide exercise with a tight deadline.
“We have sent out 700 mobile vans all across Pakistan to reach out to these far-flung areas, the villages and small towns.”
As per World Bank, the mobile phone subscription rate in the country stands at about 73 per cent, roughly equal to the rate in India.
With 50 million more SIM cards left to be verified, phone companies have dispatched teams to make customers aware of the deadline.
“In a country like this, where the infrastructure is not available in many areas, this looks unprecedented,” said Wahaj us Siraj, the chief executive officer of Nayatel, an Internet supplier.
Once the verification process is complete, it will be easier for police and intelligence officials to trace terrorists, former deputy director of the Federal Investigation Agency, Ammar Jaffri said.
Read: SIM verification drive may discourage foreign investors
The deputy director said cellphones been used in the past to detonate explosive devices as well as to make extortion calls.
“We have new technology now, and we shouldn’t be afraid of these things, we should face it,” said Jaffri.
“Watching people when they move, it’s natural: Every country does it,” he added.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/843904/ticking-clock-get-fingerprinted-or-give-up-your-cellphone/
Riaz Haq said…
Islamabad: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Thursday extended deadline for biometric verification of Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) until March 14.
Earlier, the government had set February 26 deadline to block all illegal mobile SIMs.
The target of verifying more around 100 million SIMs could not be achieved and only 50.76 million could be verified as at February 26.
According to PTA, 140 million SIMs are being used across the country while 10 million suspicious and unregistered SIMs have been blocked so far.

Keeping in view the current law and order situation, the government has taken this measure so that all Non BVS SIMs could be blocked.
Verification of SIMs could curb the misuse of mobile phones in terrorism, kidnapping, extortion and other felonies.

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/pakistan-extends-deadline-for-sim-verification-1.1463368
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to issue #biometric #passports to curb human trafficking to #Europe, Gulf

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/pakistan-to-issue-biometr/2800622.html

Pakistan plans to issue biometric passports from next year to halt the thousands of people who are being trafficked overseas, largely to European and Gulf nations, officials said.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan approved the move last week after a meeting with officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on tackling human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the South Asian nation.

"We will start issuing biometric passports from 2017," Sarfraz Hussain, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation late on Wednesday.

Pakistan in 2004 adopted computerised passports that can be read by scanning machines, he said, but the passports do not contain a microchip, which contains the holder's biodata.

This is useful as it will help authorities detect forged travel documents used by traffickers who lure poor people from rural areas with the promise of a good job overseas, Hussain added.

A combination of poverty, natural disasters and insecurity caused by a long-running Islamist insurgency has forced thousands of Pakistanis to flee in search of a better life in Europe and the Middle East.

There are no accurate figures on how many people are being trafficked or smuggled outside the country, but the United Nations says government data on deportations of Pakistanis due to illegal migration have risen in recent years.

There were 66,427 Pakistanis deported from countries such as Spain, Greece, Turkey, Oman and Iran in 2013, up from 46,032 in 2010, according a 2014 report by the U.N. Office for Drugs and Crime.

Many trafficking victims are detected at border posts in Iran and Turkey as they attempt to travel on to Europe, where they often have to risk their lives on board dangerously inadequate vessels run by people smugglers, said the report.

Others are deported from Oman - often en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where they take up low-skilled employment as maids, construction workers or drivers, and are often subjected to labour abuses.

A FIA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said more than 1,000 trafficking networks were operating across the country, the majority in the central Punjab province.

These organised criminal gangs primarily use Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, which shares a border with Iran, as a trafficking route to Europe and the Middle East.

From Iran, the trafficking victims are either taken to Turkey where they continue on to Europe, or sent to Oman and then on to the UAE, he added.

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as nations struggled to cope with the influx, and created division in the EU over how to resettle people.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, about 3 percent of these migrants and refugees were Pakistani nationals.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has virtually attained one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing legal identity to its citizens, including birth registration.

The target 9 of Goal 16 calls upon the member states of the United Nations (UN) who have pledged to achieve the SDGs by 2030, that they provide “legal identity for all, including birth registration”.

Since its inception in 2000, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has been issuing Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) to Pakistani citizens and its equivalent to the Pakistani diaspora. A CNIC is issued first at the age of 18, after the resident’s biometrics have been captured.

Acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a report said that, “the Nadra system is considered one of the world’s leading integrated national identification (ID) systems, and has provided technical assistance to the development of many systems in the developing world.”

“Nadra is also a financially self-sustaining system with a good business model in place,” the report added.

The report titled ‘Identity for Development in Asia and the Pacific’ says that Pakistan’s integrated national identification (ID) system was assessed as being at an advanced stage, as it uses cutting-edge processes and was near universal in its coverage. “The deduplication process uses biometrics and is robust while the third-party integration is easy and profuse...,” the report said. “The ID system offers a means to fast-track the development process by providing the most efficient way to identify people in developing countries.”

The report claimed that although there was no one model for providing a legal identity, the SDGs encouraged states to provide people with free or low-cost access to widely accepted, robust ID credentials.

“The UN sees ID as an enabler to achieving other SDGs in areas relating to social protection, health, finance, energy, and governance,” according to the report.

In 2012, with the aim to enhance security features on the card to make it difficult to forge as well as to expand usage in government service delivery, Nadra introduced the Smart National ID Card.

This contains a data chip, 36 security features and a match-on-card applet that improves the security of the smart card authentication by storing ID data on the card.

For Pakistani citizens, the report said, the CNIC is mandatory for conducting a vast range of transactions with the government as well as the private sector, such as voting, opening and operating bank accounts, obtaining a passport, purchasing vehicles and land and obtaining a driver’s licence.

In November 2014, the UN convened a ministerial conference on civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in Asia and the Pacific. One outcome of the conference was the development of a regional action framework for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific.

Recognising the transformational potential of 21st century ID systems for the delivery of basic services to the poor, the World Bank launched its Identification for Development (ID4D) agenda -- a cross-practice initiative with a vision to make everyone count, to ensure a unique legal identity, and to enable digital ID-based services for all.

The report explained that a total of 18 per cent of developing countries had a scheme that was used for ID purposes only. “Nearly 55pc have digital IDs that are used for specific functions and services such as voting, cash transfers, or health; and only 3pc have foundational ID schemes that can be used to access an array of online and offline services. Moreover, 24pc of developing countries have no digital ID scheme,” it said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1297293/pakistan-one-step-ahead-in-achieving-goal-of-providing-legal-identity-to-citizens
Riaz Haq said…
#Aadhaar, #India’s massive new ID system, suffers high failure rate. Failing to deliver for people http://www.wsj.com/articles/snags-multiply-in-indias-digital-id-rollout-1484237128 … via @WSJ

The government began building the system, called Aadhaar, or “foundation,” with great fanfare in 2009, led by a team of pioneering technology entrepreneurs. Since then, almost 90% of India’s population has been enrolled in what is now the world’s largest biometric data set.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who set aside early skepticism and warmed up to the Aadhaar project after taking power in 2014, is betting that it can help India address critical problems such as poverty and corruption, while also saving money for the government.

But the technology is colliding with the rickety reality of India, where many people live off the grid or have fingerprints compromised by manual labor or age.

---------


An Aadhaar ID is intended to be a great convenience, replacing the multitude of paperwork required by banks, merchants and government agencies. The benefits are only just beginning, backers say, as the biometric IDs are linked to programs and services.

But in rural areas, home to hundreds of millions of impoverished Indians dependent on subsidies, the impact of technical disruptions has already been evident.

After walking for two hours across rough underbrush in Rajasthan to get kerosene for the month, Hanja Devi left empty-handed because the machine couldn’t match her fingerprint with her Aadhaar number.

-------

The new system hasn’t eliminated attempts at fraud. In August, police in Rajasthan accused two shop managers of linking their fingerprints to a multitude of cards and stealing for months the rations of dozens of clients.

As for trouble connecting to the registry, better infrastructure, including steadier internet connections, will eventually also help, Mr. Pandey said.

For now, Mr. Prakash has found a way to cope without climbing trees. After scouring the village, he set up a shack in a spot with enough bandwidth to allow his fingerprint scanner to work.

It is hardly efficient. He issues receipts in the morning at the shack, then goes back to his shop to hand out the grains. Customers have to line up twice, sometimes for hours.

Mr. Prakash has applied to the government to operate without biometric identification, but his request was turned down, he said. “They said: ‘You have to keep trying.’ ”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #NADRA's ex leader Tariq Malik among top 100 leaders in the global #identity industry https://oneworldidentity.com/identity-leaders/ … via @1worldidentity

Also includes Nanadan Nilekani and Pramod Varma of India's Aadhaar


2016 was a year of innovation and explosive growth in the identity industry. Over the course of a 15-day open nomination period, we received over 1,000 nominations for 355 individuals. After compiling all of the nominations, the top 100 were selected based on the following selection standards:
Industry clout & influencer status
Number of publications & professional speaking engagements in 2016
Number of total nominations
Time in industry
The 2017 OWI 100 represents pioneers, innovators and pace setters who are working to advance inclusion, improve products and services, keep personal data safe, and to ensure and protect individual privacy. The list ranges from individual entrepreneurs to members of large organizations, and covers both public sector and not-for-profit industry advocates.
We are pleased to announce One World Identity’s Top 100

Riaz Haq said…
#Mastercard to add e-payment function to National Identity Cards #CNIC in #Pakistan. #NADRA

http://www.dawn.com/news/1309228/mastercard-to-optimise-national-identity-cards-with-e-payment-functionality

Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry, on Wednesday announced a strategic collaboration with Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Technologies to optimise national ID cards with an electronic payments functionality.

The move will allow citizens to carry out financial transactions and receive government disbursements by utilising the unique 13-digit identification number of their identity card.

Citizens will also be able to use their National ID to send and receive domestic and international remittances, eliminating the requirement to physically visit a bank branch or currency exchange house to meet their money transfer needs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mastercard will also use its next-generation payment processing technologies to process all online payments made by Pakistani citizens for the issuance of National ID cards, passports or any other document provisioned by NadraTechnologies.

The announcement was made during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017, taking place from January 17-20 in Davos, Switzerland.

Aurangzaib Khan, Mastercard's country Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said: “Our collaboration with Nadra Technologies is a testament to our commitment towards building a reliable and secure ecosystem for online payments in Pakistan."

"The new service will make international remittances more convenient both for the sender and beneficiary, and this is significant since Pakistan is one of the top receivers of remittances from abroad," he added

"Combining the National ID card with payment features will transform it into a powerful, multi-purpose channel for citizens to carry out financial transactions, and will facilitate faster and more efficient delivery of vital government services,” Aurangzaib elaborated.

Riaz Haq said…
Why Wikileaks cables on Pakistan’s NADRA need serious attention

https://crssblog.com/2017/06/08/why-wikileaks-cables-on-pakistans-nadra-need-serious-attention/

Below is the excerpt from the 2009 Assange-Imran interview, along with the leaked cables mentioning Malik and Gillani.

The interview excerpt:

Imran, we discovered a cable [09ISLAMABAD1642] in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime Minister Gilani and Interior Minister Malik went into the embassy and offered to share NADRA – and NADRA is the national data and registration agency database. The system is currently connected through passport data but the government of Pakistan is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometric system as the Chennai border crossing, where 30,000 to 35,000 people cross each day. This NADRA system, that is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan, and a front company was set up in the United Kingdom – International Identity Services, which was hired as the consultants for NADRA to squirrel out the NADRA data for all of Pakistan. What do you think about that? Is that a…? It seems to me that that is a theft of some national treasure of Pakistan, the entire Pakistani database registry of its people.

Excerpt from the leaked Cables:

Both PM Gilani and Interior Minister Malik pointed out that the National Data Registration Agency (NADRA) already collects a wide spectrum of information on Pakistani citizens, from driving records to DNA. Malik offered to share NADRA-generated information on Pakistani citizens, within the constraints imposed by privacy concerns. NADRA is at the heart of what the GOP intends to be an integrated border management system, Malik said, and suggested that API/PNR sharing could be a subset of this larger system. The system is currently connected through passport data, but the GOP is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometrics system at the Chaman border crossing, where 30-35,000 people cross each day. Reiterating that he welcomed both USG assistance and the arrival of a DHS team to discuss PNR, Malik agreed to set up a joint U.S.-Pakistan task force to work out a way forward.

(S//NF) Comment: The Secretary’s visit was an essential and well-received step to rebuild the trust between DHS and the GOP that will be necessary to reach an eventual deal on API/PNR. GOP officials are clearly concerned about the political fallout if any deal to share API/PNR data became public. Malik was direct in expressing his need for model agreements or other legal frameworks to help allay concerns of a politically embarrassing court challenge to API/PNR data sharing and the potential issues with airlines of third countries. While this information will no doubt be helpful, Post strongly recommends further political-level bridge building before we can effectively engage at the technical level. On senior officials’ broad requests for more assistance on border security, we caution that the openness we regularly see in high-level meetings is often not followed through at the institutional level. Post will work with DHS, State, and DoD (all of whom are already working on border security and training issues) to target DHS assistance clearly so as to complement our existing security and training programs. End Comment.

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