Interview with Keith Stringfellow, President, Smartmatic Corporation
Can you please provide our readers with a brief background of the company?
Smartmatic is a multinational company that designs and deploys technological solutions intended to help governments fulfill their commitments towards the citizens, in the most efficient way. It is an advanced technology supplier having a worldwide reach, with proven experience in the United States, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Smartmatic has successfully organized and performed multiple national and regional elections using its electronic voting solutions, as well as nationwide biometric registration deployments in countries such as USA, Mexico, the Philippines, Venezuela, Bolivia, Mali and Zambia.
Please review your Smartmatic Identity Management Solutions (SIMS).
Smartmatic solves the needs of governments when it comes to the registration of citizens by supplying the most efficient technology. It contains all the necessary modules for the automated collection of information: data capture, authentication, transmission, security, and data analysis which includes classification, migration, and debugging. One technology used to accomplish this is the PARmobile which is a portable and robust all-in-one data registration powerhouse designed for field operations. Our approach guarantees the accuracy of records and minimizes the possibility of irregularities related to identity theft and election fraud.
You describe your product PARmobile as an advanced, portable and robust device aimed at simplifying the processes of collecting biographic and biometric information and verifying people's identity in any location. You state that it can be used in large-scale projects such as civil or voter registration, national identification and immigration control. Can you please elaborate on the features of this product?
The PARmobile device and its associated software provide a powerful tool for end users and solution providers to deliver the best-value and most effective identity enrollment platform available today. PARmobile is designed as an all-in-one enrollment suite which uses BioBAY modules that easily clip into place providing the required combination of biometric, card, keypad, printer, and signature pad interfaces seamlessly.
The base platform supports digital facial capture plus an extensive set of multi-port USB, Firewire, and Network connections for additional devices or interfaces. The entire suite is based on a UL-certified, dual-core CPU running MS Windows XP O/S or Windows 7.
Other features include:
- Flexible printing capability to produce voter lists, identity documents, electronic cards, etc.
- Automatic picture cropping and double light source.
- Up to 3 hours of internal battery autonomy and 8 extra hours with external battery.
- Able to work with solar power panels, diesel generators, gas, UPS, etc.
- Configurable to work with different types of fingerprint scanners, from 1 to 10 fingers
- Portable and light, designed to be conveniently transported and used.
You have recently been awarded several large scale voting contracts in Bolivia and the Philippines. Can you tell us about these accomplishments?
Last year, the Bolivian National Electoral Court (or CNE, from its acronym in Spanish) selected a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational NEC Corporation, NEC Argentina, to carry out a project to modernize its electoral roll using biometric technology. In addition, the project planners decided to rely on Smartmatic's technology and professional support in order to guarantee high-quality results and reliable delivery times.
Smartmatic's contribution to the Bolivian electoral registration project included thousands of units of its advanced equipment for the registration stations, and training courses to the National Electoral Court's staff. Moreover, our company was in charge of overseeing the event?s logistics and related equipment, and also the allotment of staff across the different Regional Electoral Courts and in Registration centers abroad.
On the other hand, last May Smartmatic carried out the automation project for the General Elections in the Philippines, the largest electoral process that a private company has ever undertaken. More than 85,000 candidates contesting for 17,000 posts, 50.7 million voters, 82,200 voting machines, more than 315 million votes cast, transmitted, and counted, all across 7,107 islands comprising the archipelago.
For the first time, Filipinos got to learn results within Election Day: one hour and a half after the polls closed, 40% of results had been transmitted and tallied. In past elections, for example in 2004, 40 days were spent counting votes manually in order to proclaim the newly elected President.
In this most unprecedented successful election in the history of the Philippines, where turnout reached an awesome 76%, Smartmatic delivered reliable results that were accepted by the participating political parties. We believe the speed, transparency and acceptance level of the results meant a significant contribution to the democratic processes of the Asian nation.
Which vertical market segments are you focusing on?
We are focused on the Government Market, and our goal is to to enhance transparency and efficiency of their processes. We can accomplish this by creating registration systems that make it incredibly difficult for people to create false identities or steal other people?s identity. When it comes to voting we make sure that all of the votes are auditable and the results transmitted quickly.
Has this been a good year for the company? Can you please highlight some of the milestones?
This has been a great year for Smartmatic. In addition to carrying out the Philippines Elections, we have been awarded a contract by the Mexican government to supply our technology to an ambitious project involving the creation of a new biometric ID system. Also, we have been selected by the UNDP Programme of the United Nations to improve the Electoral Registration in Zambia with our technology. We have also expanded our international reach opening offices in new countries. There are also many new and exciting projects on the horizon.
Where do you see the biometrics market in 5 years and what will the technology be capable of by then?
In the next 5 years the Biometric market will see a trend towards smaller, lighter, and more powerful methods of collecting information. There will also be continued adoption of privacy laws which will allow for secure data to be collected from populations. This trend will also continue internationally using solid biometrics such as finger, face, and even iris. Research and Development will also still continue into new more accurate biometrics. In general the focus will be strengthening the security of the data collected and educating the populace on how collecting biometrics can secure a civilians rights.
What can we expect to see from Smartmatic the next year?
We are continuing our expansion throughout the world. This year we will be opening new offices in London, Taiwan and Panama to further strengthen our international position as a leading technology supplier. Also, our large R&D team is always innovating to introduce new advances in our solutions. In the U.S we are looking to increase our footprint by establishing relationships with large distributors and resellers. We are also hoping to incorporate a 10 print solution into the Biobay which will allow us to go after an even larger market.
Smartmatic has recently introduced the industry's most flexible, cost-effective platform for identity enrollment and management, the PARmobile. PARmobile is a portable, ruggedized, self-contained biometric enrollment platform that can be customized to the most demanding needs of the US marketplace by our distributor, systems integrator and VAR partners. Products & services: Facial Recognition, Fingerprint Readers, Iris Recognition, Voice/Speaker, Border Control/Airports, Justice/Law Enforcement and Physical Access Control.