The development by ETU "LETI" researchers will simplify the procedure for controlling pedestrian and driver permits during a quarantine

The development by ETU

Researchers of Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI" developed a system to add animated BIO QR codes to digital permits.

15.05.2020 62

With the threat of coronavirus spreading, digital permits have become the new reality of our lives. One by one, Russian regions are introducing permit systems designed to help the authorities ensure compliance with the self-isolation regime. Their departments are working to make such systems the most efficient. Researchers from the Department of Software Engineering and Computer Applications of ETU "LETI" proposed their solution to the problem. Their development aims to simplify and automate controlling the quarantine.

"COVID-19 is taking over new countries and more and more people without dividing them by age, gender, or race. As long as there are no vaccines, stopping the chain of transmission becomes the main way to protect the population. To prevent the spread of coronavirus, Russian regions have introduced a self-isolation regime and a stricter quarantine, which restricts any movement of people. However, many Russians violate not only the self-isolation regime but even the quarantine by appearing on the street without any special need. What are the current solutions in this difficult situation? Today, in several cities, a digital permit has been introduced to control the regime and the movement of people," Georgy Kukharev, Professor of the Department of Software Engineering and Computer Applications, comments on the situation.

A digital permit is a special 16-digit code (e.g.: 3004-T123-MO11-K123) consisting of numbers and letters: the first 4 digits indicate the expiration date of the permit, and the remaining 12 digits allow to identify the owner and the purpose of the trip. It can be coded into a special binary QR code installed on a smartphone to scan it if necessary.

The first attempts to scan the binary QR codes on a paper or digital electronic permits led to queues at subway turnstiles and at public transport stops, threatening close and dangerous contact between people. At present, Moscow has implemented automated permit control: a Troika social card or a Strelka transport card, tied to a binary QR-code, is used as a permit in the subway. There are no problems with the queue, and therefore, dangerous contact between people.

However, permit checking becomes more complicated when checking pedestrian and car permits on the streets, explains Professor Kukharev. You need to scan a 16-digit code from a QR code on a smartphone or a paper permit, and then enter it into the mobile device to communicate with the permit database to verify its authenticity. Also, you need to show an ID. In this case, not only the ID information about the permit holder (name, address, and passport number) is checked, but also his or her face is checked against the image of the person from the identity document. "Once again, time delays and anxiety are common with such a complete control method!" says the researcher.

To simplify the permit control for pedestrians and drivers, Professor Kukharev and his postgraduate students propose to use a colored animated BIO QR code (ABIO QR code) linked to the original 16-digit code. Such an ABIO QR code contains this 16-digit code and a color photo of an owner with the same code. 

It also contains two binary QR codes. The first one contains ID information about a person, and the second one contains one of the facial biometrics characteristics. Key points in the face image and the information stored in the QR code must match under certain conditions. If this information does not match, it will indicate that the portrait has been tampered or replaced. Both of these QR codes contain confidential information, so they cannot be scanned by standard QR code scanners, as the information in them can be encrypted.

The main advantage of the ABIO QR code is that it does not require a mobile connection. When there is no internet connection, it will be sufficient to compare the 16-digit code of a digital permit with a code in a face image and to visually compare the face image with the face of the person.

Use of ABIO QR codes to control the self-isolation regime and quarantine in a simple automatic procedure based on a minimum of confidential information will allow also to reduce the fears which citizens have when using a full set of functions of digital permits.

"Perhaps with more information about COVID-19 and a reduced threat of mass infection, the means we propose will not be needed at all. However, it is still necessary to develop them; this will allow us to be prepared for any new challenges." 

Georgy Kukharev, Professor of the Department of Software Engineering