The GNWT will be rolling out new driver licenses and temporary identification cards this fall along with new software programming involving facial recognition.

Officials from the Department of Infrastructure held a technical briefing for reporters on Wednesday stating that new drivers license cards will be introduced to the public on Sept. 1.

In mid-November, the department will also unveil temporary licenses and facial recognition programming software in all DMV offices.

Kevin Dunbar, director of compliance and licencing division, and Adele Bisaillon, senior creative communications advisor, unveiled images of the new cards and explained the added security features and design upgrades. Typically security and design upgrades take place every decade to ensure that residents’ documentation keep up with technological changes over time, they explained.

Some of the new artistic designs will include the  integration of NWT official symbols like the Arctic grayling, Mountain Aven, and the fox (for general identification cards only), an official part of the territorial shield and flag.

“The feature elements that you’ll find within the VIP also finds the colours that utilize throughout the new brands. It can be in the northern energy, water viewer orientalists natural resources, and the spirits of the richness of the Divine diversity of our culture,” said Bisaillon. “Several of the official symbols were incorporated.”

Some of the highlights will include fine background printing with “extremely fine lines” to protect data and which are designed to be difficult to replicate.

There will also be tactile data fields that has raised printing so that they can be felt when handled and three clear windows that are in the shape of a large diamond, a smaller diamond and a midnight sun.

A secondary photo image in the window on the front and back of the card will have large diamond window with a small photo of the main picture.

The card will also have invisible printing across front with invisible links for added security.

“The UV printing is a really incredible feature to see and we selected and northern scene of our aurora borealis, and that is actually printed in various inks,” Bisaillon said. “So it’s something that’s really spectacular to see.”

The back of the card will also have a large barcode that contains the personal information which appears on the front and which can be scanned easily by security, such as at the airport.

Temporary identification card 

Wednesday’s presentation also touched on a new “temporary identification card” which will be offered in November when residents are applying for or renewing a general identification card. It will have much of the same look as the drivers license card, however there will be different symbols integrated.

It will mostly be used as a temporary document while waiting for the full licence card. The card can be used for airport identification, as well.

The design also includes an Arctic grayling front on the face card and the tail on the backside of the card running through the diamond-shaped head frame.  The temporary card also has a sundog on the front and additional imagery on the back.

“Again we wanted to incorporate visuals that highlighted the unique aspects of the North,” Bisaillon said.

Facial Recognition

Wednesday’s announcement included the announcement that facial recognition software will be introduced for the first time into the department’s Secure Image Management System (SIMS), which has existed since 2005.

“The new system will implement facial recognition to images taken at Driver and Motor Vehicle (DMV) Offices across the Northwest Territories,” Sonia Idir, media spokesperson with the department, stated in an email.

“SIMS captures and collects the images required for a driver’s licence and a general identification card. Facial recognition technology is applied to the collected images to ensure every driver has just one driver’s licence and one driving record in Canada.”

At least five other jurisdictions in Canada provide this service, Idir added.

According to the GNWT Contract Report for April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 reporting period, the GNWT budgeted $4.030 million for the SIMS and facial recognition portions of the project. The contract was given to the Canadian Bank Note Company.

“The technology will file all the photographs taken after the launch in mid November and existing photographs in the system right now will be available through facial recognition – so people don’t have to go in to get photos retaken in to benefit from the great security update.”

The software will be able to distinguish between identical twins and focus on minor details of one’s image so that licenses cannot be used for identity theft or identity fraud, Dunbar said.

Dunbar was asked if there have been a rise in fraudulent cases with licenses and he said that it does happen.

“We’re trying to mitigate as much as we possibly can so the more the more security features we have better we’re going to protect everyone’s identification,”  he said.


Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University...

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