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DIBP programme employs biometrics and big data

by Daniel Barabas •
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Innovative use of data analytics, biometrics and ICT systems improved operations at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in 2013-14, according to its Annual Report.

The Risk, Fraud and Integrity Division (RFID) is using data analytics to improve fraud control, risk management and integrity scans, through ‘advanced analytics’.

“Big data technologies attract a great deal of attention in both government and the private sector and RFID is developing important capabilities that allow the department to interrogate the variety, volume, velocity and veracity of data needed to underpin a robust approach to integrity,” states the Annual Report. 

“The department is applying these techniques and tools to make better use of data already collected so that its officers can detect visa and citizenship fraud at the border or before.”

As a result, 34 per cent more people arriving in Australia were refused entry in 2013-14 compared to the previous year, according to the Annual Report.  The Report states that the systems used to detect persons of interest include:

  • IMtel: “which provides a capability to store, retrieve, link and analyse immigration intelligence and integrity data. Intelligence collected is available to departmental officers including those at international airports and overseas missions”;
  • Risk scoring service (RSS):  “a state-of-the-art risk scoring engine that uses complex statistical models to process large amounts of data in real time to identify higher-than-acceptable levels of risk”;
  • BRIS: a “web-based interface for the mainframe computer, providing rapid response times while compiling risk-modelling information into useable, readable and visually efficient displays”;
  • Networks analytics capability: “a system that can identify hidden connections between people, organisations, addresses and other data to support investigations and decision-making”; and
  • Enhanced alerts: “applying analytics with business intelligence processes allows the department to forecast more accurately future trends in traveller arrivals to Australia and generate alerts when unusual patterns are detected.”

Since 2009, the Department has worked with Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand on the Five Country Conference (FCC) biometric data-matching program, to more efficiently monitor and regulate migration.  The program has now shared over 100,000 records and more than 10,379 people have had their fingerprints verified since December 2010.

Beyond initiatives aimed at detecting illegal immigrants, DIBP also worked on a new Integrated Service Delivery Framework (ISDF) to transfer asylum seeker income support payment information between DIBP and the Department of Human Services (DHS).  The system should be completed by the end of the 2014.

The single delivery platform is expected to create a more efficient payment method to asylum seekers by providing a “consistent, transparent and better-integrated service.”

Other technology related service delivery improvements were also implemented in 2013-14:

  • An Enterprise Knowledge Support System (EKSS) which holds all information used to answer client queries (June 2013); and
  • A new telephony system (December 2013). 
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