Interior to digitize more services

October 30, 2017

Layan Damanhouri

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – New technology is being developed by the Ministry of Interior for over a dozen sectors to boost efficiency of citizen services.

An array of technologies such as apps and portals as well as devices seeks to fulfill the government’s plan to digitize the sectors, according to a ministry representative.

One challenge that citizens face is the redundant process of remembering a username and password for opening files in each ministry. “We recognize this issue and now we have developed a new process for IDs to be accessed in a unified system,” says Mazen Alqarni, senior information security specialist at the ministry’s National Information Center (NIC).

An ID portable scanner now scans the chip on the ID card and requires citizens to insert a 4-digit PIN number to access files.

“Currently, there is a problem because most users don’t remember their PIN number. This new solution not only bolsters security but also creates a standard for all ministries when opening a citizen’s file,” Alqarni told Saudi Gazette.

A similar project for issuing official documents aims to allow citizens to authenticate their ID more efficiently by inserting ID cards and fingerprints in a portable device.

Mobile ID and passport services provided by Absher are offered for people who are unable to leave their premises such as the elderly, persons with special needs, prisoners, or patients admitted to hospitals.

A project that is also being developed by the NIC is advanced facial recognition technology that automatically identifies a suspect or offender by matching their image to a full database of citizens, residents and visitors in the country.

“This is helpful especially in videos of crimes circulated on social media or captured by surveillance cameras,” Alqarni explained.

Travelers will soon be able to scan their own passports followed by a photo and fingerprint verification through a self-service machines. This will do away with crowded lines at immigration counters at airports in coming months, starting with King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

The Civil Defense is currently testing an app called Fazaa, designed as an emergency line for people with special needs.

The ministry says it considers itself at the forefront of offering smart solutions in government e-services that aligns with the Kingdom’s digital transformation. Several initiatives have been launched and are regarded as successful after winning awards, such as Absher electronic service that was introduced several years ago.

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