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In order to meet the needs of maritime businesses wanting to improve the safety of their personnel given the rise of international terrorism, the International Labour Organisation , in association with the International Maritime Organisation , has drafted the Seafarers Identity Documents Convention. They decided on a biometric system.

Steria, one of the three companies pinpointed by the ILO worldwide, was approved for the interoperability of its system with those of the other suppliers selected. In the future, near one million seamen worldwide will carry biometric ID cards. This operation is the first to involve such large-scale interoperability.

The Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention , which went into effect on 9 February 2005 and will gradually be ratified by the 178 member nations in the organisation, calls for the delivery of new, more secure ID cards for seamen. It stipulates that only a biometric system can meet the strict security requirements on ships and in ports, while simplifying seafarers' movements from country to country.

The new biometric ID cards should be able to replace existing local ID cards (such as the maritime certificate in Norway) and facilitate procedures for obtaining a visa; but they are not intended to replace passports.

Introducing the new cards is the responsibility of maritime authorities in each country. The Norwegian Parliament, very attuned to this subject, has requested that local maritime authorities study the possibility of cooperating with other countries to introduce this new ID card. Norwegian sailors should have their cards in 2006.

The main challenge for Steria's consultants and experts was to create a secure, fully interoperable identification system able to read data on cards made by other suppliers.

The cardholder's fingerprints are scanned and appear as 2D barcodes on the back of the ID card. During an identification check, the cardholder places his or her finger on a scanner, which then verifies that the fingerprint matches the one on the card. Previously the information appearing on ID cards had to be stored in the database of the card's supplier in order to be read.

Steria has successfully completed the latest round of tests to check the interoperability of its system with those of Sagem and Hyundai Information Technologies. The three systems approved by the ILO are interchangeable and other system integrators will need to purchase hardware and software from one of the three official suppliers.

"We are delighted to be included on the list of ILO-compliant companies. This announcement marks international recognition of our biometrics expertise and rewards a long-standing project successfully coordinated by our Norwegian subsidiary," said Lars Vaagen Solbakken, Biometrics Expert at Steria. "This project has also caught the attention of other bodies such as the ISO and the FBI.

Steria and biometrics
Solutions from Steria, the European leader in the integration of biometrics solutions (secure exchange of digital fingerprints, facial recognition, access control in airports, etc.), has been selected by the European Commission as part of the EURODAC project. Steria set up a central automated fingerprint identification system (based in Brussels) and an electronic fingerprint image transmission system in 24 European countries, to process asylum requests. Around two million immigration and asylum applications had been processed by this system by the end of 2004.

German border police (Bundesgrenzschutz - BGS) and German national police forces of ten federal states have also chosen Steria to manage and transmit digital fingerprints and other biometric data, such as faces or signatures, to national databases in a highly secure environment, in order to facilitate identification procedures and recording data on suspects.

About the International Labour Organization (ILO):
The ILO is the UN specialised agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights and provides technical support in various fields such as occupational safety and health, working conditions, etc.

About the International Maritime Organisation (IMO):
The IMO, a United Nations agency, was created to improve maritime safety and prevent marine pollution.

About Steria (
Extensive expertise in its three core businesses of consulting, systems integration and managed services has made Steria a leading end-to-end IT services provider for companies and public authorities throughout Europe. With a revenue of more than 1.1 billion Euros and 9,000 employees, Steria is one of the top 10 European IT services companies.

Understanding the challenges facing its customers, an exceptional ability to respond and an industrial approach to business enable Steria to design innovative solutions with a commitment to results and customer satisfaction. Steria thus applies its expertise in a range of markets (the public sector, banking and finance, manufacturing/utilities/transport, and telecoms), backed by more than 35 years' experience in managing large-scale projects. Steria's employees, who hold 26% of the Groups capital, draw on its core values of simplicity, creativity, independence, respect and openness to transform the latest technology into added-value services, enabling Steria to help its customers achieve and maintain competitive advantage.

Steria is listed on Euronext Paris, Eurolist (Compartment B).

Casey Balkham/Claire Williamson
Tel: +44 (0)20 7479 5625/5620

Steria Group Corporate Communications Department
Isabelle Grangi
Tel.: +33 1 34 88 64 44

Steria Norway Communications Director
Anders Lindgren
Tel.: +47 22 57 57 64 / Mobile: +47 41 63 30 84

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