QLD smart licence to go national

Facial recognition, signature matching, and card readers in every home.

Expectations that Queensland's emerging smart card driver licence will become a national model could see card readers in every Australian business, home, club and local video shop.

The license, which uses facial recognition, has been under development by Queensland Transport for three years, and aims to reduce fraud, simplify card issuing and cut red tape.

Other states in Australia are developing similar smart-card licensing, though none are as advanced as the New Queensland Driver License (NQDL) project.

Queensland Transport land transport and safety executive director Judy Oswin said the card will be the first in Australia to include facial recognition and will remove address details from the face of the license.

"It is a huge change that people are going to have to get used to," Oswin said.

"There is an awful amount of information that is relied upon on the face of the driver licence."

Registered clubs, car hire companies and other government agencies including Australia Post will have access to user data imbedded in the licence and stored in government databases for validation of identity, address, and whether the person is allowed to drive.

Such validation will require users to swipe their licence in a smart card reader and enter a pin number to allow the organisation to obtain basic licence details and conditions.

Oswin said other ancillary uses, such as automatic transfer of vehicle registration, will be integrated into the chip as the project develops.

"We need to focus on delivering the project but we are open to incorporating [other uses]," she said.

It will be the first time that images and written signatures are stored in a central repository for the Queensland drivers licence.

The NQDL project is pioneering smart card technology in the country, and has written components of the 24727 ISO standard which is yet to be completed.

Austroads, the association of Australian and New Zealand road transport and traffic authorities, is expected to promote the same standards used by the NQDL to ensure interoperability between states.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates used in the Queensland license are expected to be adopted by all states.

Oswin said police will be able to use the same smart card readers to check licence conditions and confirm identity if uniformed PKI certificates are used.

Lax interoperability between state licencing will damage everything from fraud prevention, to law enforcement and future smart card initiatives.

Users will be able to update personal information over the Internet, and possibly in the future through a series of public smart card reader terminals.

Data on the smart card will be updated whenever it is placed in a reader, and users will be supplied with record of access.

The project began the "implementation phase" at the start of last year, and its expected to commence rolling out from late 2009.

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