Ovum on: Atos Origin Wins French Biometric Passport Contract

by Jessica Hawkins, analyst at Ovum

"The value of the contract was not disclosed, but it is clearly an ambitious programme and an important win for Atos. Under the deal, Atos and Sagem Securite will deploy nearly 5,000 data acquisition and processing systems in 2,000 French town halls and 350 prefectures and sub-prefectures before June 2009, making it possible to include fingerprints on passports."

"Cynics might say that being French helped Atos and Sagem win this contract, which has clear national security implications. However, both companies have a good track record in the area of security and identity globally."

"It is not a surprise to see Atos winning a biometrics contract the company has extensive expertise and relationships in this field through its UK public sector business. It undertook a biometric technology trial for the UK Passport Service and defined an implementation strategy, framework and business case for the rollout of a citizen multi-application smartcard in Scotland. It also has strong relationships with GCHQ and the Border and Immigration Agency and, as IT partner for the Olympic Games, has security-specific offerings high on its agenda."

"Despite these existing relationships with key UK public sector security and identity organisations, it missed out on the e-Borders contract and has failed to win a framework contract as part of the procurement for the national ID card scheme (CSC, EDS, Fujitsu, IBM and Thales were the successful suppliers here)."

"So it is likely that Atos is hoping that this flagship project in France will prove a useful reference site as it looks to grow its security and identity business across Europe. Biometrics will increasingly become important to many European governments as a way to monitor the flux of populations. If Atos can deliver this project successfully, to time and to expectations, then it could put itself in a strong position to meet future demand for these capabilities."

"Atos's next major opportunity to demonstrate its security and biometric credentials could be the Olympic Games. As the official IT partner to the International Olympic Committee since 2002, Atos plays a key role in the supply of IT systems and services during the Olympic Games. With the threat of terrorism ever present, a large part of the IT requirements will be focused on security, and in particular identity management."

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