Permanent records – learn how a MSU expert is using thumbprints, vaccination records to save children’s lives

Permanent records – learn how a MSU expert is using thumbprints, vaccination records to save children’s lives

April 13, 20212 min read

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramp up in developing nations, accurate and accessible vaccination records are critical for children who often lack official identification necessary for the delivery of government or medical assistance.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem and the broader need for child identification has been researched for years now by Anil Jain, a Michigan State University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering. Jain and his team of researchers — Joshua Engelsma, Debayan Deb and Kai Cao — are now advancing the use of groundbreaking fingerprint recognition systems for children as young as a few months old.

“The research of Jain and his team is unique in its rigor and in the promise that it embodies,” said Joseph Atick, executive chairman of ID4Africa. “Solving the infant ID problem through fingerprints will have profound consequences to the development agenda as a whole and to civil registration, child protection and health management, in particular. It will give today's invisible children in the developing world a legal identity by tracing them to their origin, enabling them to assert their rights and to be fully included in society.”

Starting in 2014, Jain and his team began developing fingerprint recognition that worked well for toddlers,1 year and older. The researchers traveled to Saran Ashram hospital in Dayalbagh, India, where, over a one-year time span, they fingerprinted the same children multiple times to show they could be reliably recognized based only upon their fingerprints.

The team's latest breakthrough employs an $80, high-resolution (1900ppi) infant fingerprint reader. It developed along with a high-resolution fingerprint matcher. Prints taken in children as young as two months were still recognizable a year later.

It’s a compelling story, and the complete article is attached here.

Despite efforts of international health organizations and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), children are still dying because it’s been believed that it wasn’t possible to use body traits such as fingerprints to identify children. We’ve just demonstrated that it is indeed possible,” Jain said.

In many developing countries, identification documents are kept as paper records, but paper is easily lost, destroyed, forged or stolen. Fingerprints are purportedly unique and, once captured in a database, could be accessed by medical professionals to reliably record immunization schedules and other medical information.

In additional to accessing medical records, capturing a child’s fingerprint has several additional uses such as civil registries, lifetime identities and improving nutrition.

This is an amazing feat and one worth covering. If you are journalist looking to learn more – then let us help.

Anil K. Jain is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at Michigan State University and is a renowned expert in biometrics. Jain is available to speak to media about facial recognition technology - simply click on his icon to arrange an interview today.

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  • Anil Jain
    Anil Jain University Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science

    Expert in biometrics (pattern recognition, computer vision and biometric recognition)

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