After nearly a quarter century, I finally (virtually) attended an ESRI User Conference #EsriUC

Although I’ve never worked with the company directly, I have a long history with ESRI.

  • When Printrak acquired portions of SCC back in 1997, Printrak became the company of record for SCC’s computer aided dispatch product, which used ESRI technology for its mapping.
  • When I rejoined the Proposals organization about a decade ago, the (then) Southern California Chapter of the (then) Association of Proposal Management Professionals arranged for satellite locations for its chapter meetings. Initially I would go to Redlands and attend the meetings at ESRI’s corporate headquarters. (Very nice facility, by the way.) Eventually I arranged to host satellite meetings at MorphoTrak’s Anaheim headquarters on Tustin Avenue, so my visits to ESRI in Redlands ceased. Now most meetings (other than Training Day) are online-only.

Add my interest in mapping to the mix, and you would think that I would be a prime target to attend ESRI’s annual User Conference in San Diego. However, as I mentioned, I wasn’t working with the company directly, and so I could never justify attending the ESRI User Conference in the same way that I could justify attending Oracle OpenWorld, the International Association for Identification, or IDEMIA/MorphoTrak/Motorola/Printrak’s own User Conference.

Then this pandemic thing happened, I became a free agent, bla bla bla. And so I found myself watching the Monday plenary session for the virtual 2021 ESRI User Conference.

For those who know ESRI, it’s no surprise that the speaker for much of the 3 1/2 hour plenary session was Jack Dangermond. This was the first time that I heard Dangermond speak at any length, and he provided a helpful overview of the company and its offerings, supported by a slew of ESRI product managers and outside partners.

For those who know ESRI, it’s no surprise that ESRI’s offerings have expanded since the late 1990s, with mobile and cloud options that could barely be envisioned in the last millennium.

And (like Oracle) ESRI has expanded from its base product into various verticals, such as ArcGIS Business Analyst for location-based market intelligence. The case studies illustrate how this product can benefit its users.

And I am certainly a fan of case studies

Two articles on facial recognition

Within the last hour I’ve run across two articles that discuss various aspects of facial recognition, dispelling popular society notions about the science in the process.

Ban facial recognition? Ain’t gonna happen

The first article was originally shared by my former IDEMIA colleague Peter Kirkwood, who certainly understood the significance of it from his many years in the identity industry.

The article, published by the Security Industry Association (SIA), is entitled “Most State Legislatures Have Rejected Bans and Severe Restrictions on Facial Recognition.”

Admittedly the SIA is by explicit definition an industry association, but in this case it is simply noting a fact.

With most 2021 legislative sessions concluded or winding down for the year, proposals to ban or heavily restrict the technology have had very limited overall success despite recent headlines. It turns out that such bills failed to advance or were rejected by legislatures in no fewer than 17 states during the 2020 and 2021 sessions: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.

And the article even cited one instance in which public safety and civil libertarians worked together, proving such cooperation is actually possible.

In March, Utah enacted the nation’s most comprehensive and precise policy safeguards for government applications. The measure, supported both by the Utah Department of Public Safety as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, establishes requirements for public-sector and law enforcement use, including conditions for access to identity records held by the state, and transparency requirements for new public sector applications of facial recognition technology.

This reminds me of Kirkwood’s statement when he originally shared the article on LinkedIn: “Targeted use with appropriate governance and transparency is an incredibly powerful and beneficial tool.”

NIST’s biometric exit tests reveal an inconvenient truth

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is clearly NOT an industry association, continues to enhance its ongoing Facial Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT). As I noted myself on Facebook and LinkedIn:

With its latest rounds of biometric testing over the last few years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has shown its ability to adapt its testing to meet current situations.

In this case, NIST announced that it has applied its testing to the not-so-new use case of using facial recognition as a “biometric exit” tool, or as a way to verify that someone who was supposed to leave the country has actually left the country. The biometric exit use case emerged after 9/11 in response to visa overstays, and while the vast, vast majority of people who overstay visas do not fly planes into buildings and kill thousands of people, visa overstays are clearly a concern and thus merit NIST testing.

Transportation Security Administration Checkpoint at John Glenn Columbus International Airport. By Michael Ball – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77279000

But buried at the end of the NIST report (accessible from the link in NIST’s news release) was a little quote that should cause discomfort to all of those who reflexively believe that all biometrics is racist, and thus needs to be banned entirely (see SIA story above). Here’s what NIST said after having looked at the data from the latest test:

“The team explored differences in performance on male versus female subjects and also across national origin, which were the two identifiers the photos included. National origin can, but does not always, reflect racial background. Algorithms performed with high accuracy across all these variations. False negatives, though slightly more common for women, were rare in all cases.”

And as Peter Kirkwood and many other industry professionals would say, you need to use the technology responsibly. This includes things such as:

  • In criminal cases, having all computerized biometric search results reviewed by a trained forensic face examiner.
  • ONLY using facial recognition results as an investigative lead, and not relying on facial recognition alone to issue an arrest warrant.

So facial recognition providers and users had a good day. How was yours?

(Bredemarket Premium) My (biometric) baby is American made

When I first entered the biometric world, the portion of the world that directly interested me (the automated fingerprint identification system, or AFIS industry) had three major players and one emerging player. Of those four, two were privately held American companies, and the other two were U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies (one French, one Japanese).

Today it’s different.

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My prediction of the death of tangible collateral was premature

I love it when I am SPECTACULARLY wrong.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post dedicated to marketing intangible products, in which I said things like this:

…when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.

and:

In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

My prior post definitively stated that all of that printed collateral stuff was a relic of the past.

Then I went to an event on Friday.

The event was here in the city of Ontario, although it was way on the other side of the city and it took me 25 minutes to drive there. It was called “Tech on Tap,” and was held at the New Haven Marketplace, a shopping center next to a new residential development in the former agricultural reserve.

The event started with a half hour of speeches, followed by the ribbon cutting for a new microbrewery. Rather than listening to all the speeches, I spent my time visiting all the “Tech on Tap” booths.

When I went home, I realized that I had accumulated a BIT of tangible collateral.

OK, a LOT of tangible collateral.

So much for Mr. “Everything is Intangible.”

So WHY was I spectacularly wrong? I think there were two reasons:

  • I am normally used to attending events in the B2G/B2B space. The city’s event was clearly a B2C event, and individual consumers have different expectations than business/government attendees. (Even for B2G/B2B events, how many attendees end up snatching booth swag for their kids?)
  • While a number of the booths at “Tech on Tap” were staffed by tech companies (robots, ISPs, and the like), about half of the booths were staff by departments of the city of Ontario. Sometimes cities do not rush into tech as quickly as businesses do, and sometimes the citizens of a government do not EXPECT cities to rush into tech.

If you look closely at my loot, you will see that most of it is from city agencies. And there were a lot of agencies represented, including city utilities, police, fire, and recreation.

Oh, and if you look closely at my loot, you will see that I ended up with TWO bags, BOTH from the same agency, the Ontario Municipal Utilities Company. This agency had two separate booths on opposite ends up the area, one staffed by the recycling/trash folks, the other by the water folks. After I had already obtained the green bag from the recycling/trash booth, the person at the water booth insisted on giving me the blue bag (which folds up; nice). And when I started to put the blue bag inside my already-filled green bag, he convinced me that I should do the opposite.

I’m still amused that I, the proclaimer that there will be no “death of passwords,” was myself equally insistent about the “death of tangible collateral.” Neither is going to happen.

Callouts

I need an excuse to recycle my town crier image.

By Unknown author – postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7691878

What did town criers do?

Town criers were actually a remarkable technological innovation at the time, allowing notification over a (relatively) wide area of a newsworthy event.

‘Oyez’ (pronounced ‘oh yay’) comes from the French ouïr (‘to listen’) and means “Hear ye”. The town crier would begin his cry with these words, accompanied by the ringing of a large hand bell to attract attention. It was the job of the crier or bellman to inform the townspeople of the latest news, proclamations, bylaws and any other important information, as at this time most folk were illiterate and could not read….

Having read out his message, the town crier would then attach it to the door post of the local inn, so ‘posting a notice’, the reason why newspapers are often called ‘The Post’.

So in essence the town crier was a rather loud announcement of something that was followed up (for the literate) with written material. Town criers did other things also, but you can read about them here if you’re interested.

From town criers to callouts

However, it turns out that the medieval town crier is NOT the origin of the term “callout.”

Although I think it should be.

(Brief aside: Microsoft advises “callout” for noun use, “call out” for verb use. Sounds good to me. Comment if you think otherwise.)

In reality, call out first appeared as a verb in the 15th century and as a noun in the 19th. But even then, it was used to refer to summoning into action (for example, calling out troops). The definition for “call out” or “callout” as I tend to use the term appeared some time later. That definition, of course, is:

2an often bordered inset in a printed article or illustration that usually includes a key excerpt or detail

Why call out?

Although I don’t use callouts in these blog posts (perhaps I should), I definitely use them in the case studies and white papers that Bredemarket authors in conjunction with clients. Big blocks of unending text are hard to read, so authors usually like to break up that text with textual callouts, alternative formatting (such as quotes and bullets), and images. Which reminds me:

(Yes, that’s the subtle reminder that I’m a biometric content marketing expert. But let’s continue.)

The hope of the callout-using author is that even if the reader does not read every single word of the text that is presented, including the mispelled word in this sentence, the reader will at least look at the callout and get the message from the callout.

Of course, there is an important question to answer when an author is selecting callouts:

Is there a reason you are highlighting the content that you are putting in the callout?

If you want the reader to look at that text, the callout had better be meaningful, and had better convey a benefit to the reader.

A blue example

Rather than use an example from an actual client, let’s return to my favorite widget manufacturer, Wendy’s Widget Company. You know, the company that used a contractor to market its new square blue widgets.

By Down10 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3279986

Now when I previously discussed Wendy’s Widget Company in the context of ABC criteria, I never did get around to explaining exactly how the marketing consultant chose to market the square blue widgets. Of course, one person at the client’s company offered a helpful idea.

“Hey, I’ve seen the advertising for a phone manufacturer, and its advertising is really cool. I suggest that when you write that case study, you include a callout that says, “It’s blue!” And…get this…print the text of the callout in blue text! Isn’t that great?”

The marketing consultant turned to the person and offered these four words:

“It’s blue. So what?”

Then the marketing consultant offered a suggested callout, framed as a quote from one of the first companies to purchase the square blue widget.

“I like the fact that it doesn’t roll away.”

(But the consultant did print the callouts in blue text. That seemed like a good idea.)

Conclusion

When the final written product is created, everything has to work together to convey the client’s intended message, including the headings, subheadings, images, and callouts.

If that fails, then just get a person with a loud voice to hand out tangible copies of your collateral and yell out the important parts.

And if you need Bredemarket’s help with callouts for a white paper or case study, contact me. We will collaborate to ensure that your document’s callouts convey the appropriate benefits.

On marketing intangible products

These days, more and more of us are marketing products that are intangible. But most of the essentials of marketing intangible products don’t differ much from marketing tangible ones.

Many, many years ago, the phrase “intangible product” seemed like a lot of nonsense. How could something be a product if you couldn’t touch it? Could you grab a product out of thin air?

By Hoodedwarbler12 (talk) – I (Hoodedwarbler12 (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26933846

Obviously that is no longer the case.

I’m not even going to, um, touch the NFT world, but clearly things that we used to think of as tangible products are now moving to the intangible realm. I’ll give you two examples from my experience:

  • When I started selling automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) in the 1990s, a law enforcement agency’s AFIS consisted of a set of computer servers in the agency’s computer room, coupled with a set of some fairly expensive workstations in the agency’s work areas. But even then, there were several states that had minimal computer servers at the state agencies, with most of the servers located in the state of California. The Western Identification Network model was duplicated in later years by other agencies who would host their biometric server “products” at faraway Amazon or Microsoft locations.
  • Similarly, when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.
By Silverije – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63431852

Yet for the most part the marketing of these intangible products isn’t much different from the way that the old tangible versions were marketed. The differences are minor:

  • When Printrak sold AFIS servers, care was taken to place a Printrak logo prominently on the server, where it would compete with the Digital Equipment Corporation logo from the server manufacturer. The logo even appeared as a component on an extended Bill of Materials. Now, purchasers of cloud solutions from the biometric companies don’t need to worry about placing logos on physical servers.
  • In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

The important thing in each case is the content. Fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies care WHERE their biometric data is stored, as long as it meets certain security, accuracy, and response time requirements. Similarly, people who collect marketing collateral are much more concerned with WHAT the collateral says than the weight of the paper used to print it.

By Rick Dikeman at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=164188

I have been accused of preferring substance over style, and I plead guilty. While style is clearly important, the substance of the product must excel or the style is wasted.

Sometimes this requires the product creator to take a step back from the nitty gritty of collateral creation, and decide what the collateral is supposed to do, and why the customer should care. Rather than saying “give me a case study that tells how the widget is exactly 70 mm high,” my clients are now asking to “give me a case study that tells our customers why our product will let them sleep securely at night.”

If you would like to explore these topics for your next piece of collateral, whether it be a case study, white paper, proposal, or some other marketing written work, Bredemarket can help you explore. Bredemarket uses a collaborative process with its clients to ensure that the final written product communicates the client’s desired message. Often the client provides specific feedback at certain stages of the process to ensure that the messaging is on track. I combine the client’s desires with my communications expertise to create a final written product that pleases both of us.

Contact me and we can discuss how to work together to realize your goals.

How livescan fingerprinting enrollment service providers win business

One of the tasks that I used to perform as an employee of IDEMIA was to track the state-by-state status of livescan fingerprinting enrollment services. And I soon discovered that enrollment services differed substantially from IDEMIA’s other major product lines.

This post describes the nuances in livescan fingerprinting enrollment services, the many players that are involved, the livescan technology, and (most importantly) how enrollment service providers win business.

Why enrollment services differ from driver’s license and AFIS services

At IDEMIA, I tracked the company’s presence in three major product lines (and a slew of others). And IDEMIA’s presence in each market differed depending upon the nuances of the markets.

  • For IDEMIA’s driver’s license services, there was only one provider for each state. Let’s face it, you can’t have two agencies issuing state driver’s licenses. (Although I guess this would satisfy someone’s libertarian fantasy.)
  • For IDEMIA’s automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS), there was only one provider of law enforcement AFIS in each state. However, there were other statewide fingerprinting systems back in the days when fingerprints were used for welfare benefits, and a number of county and city law enforcement agencies had their own AFIS systems.
  • But for IDEMIA’s enrollment services, there could potentially be dozens or hundreds of small businesses that provided the service. All of this depended upon how the state authorized enrollment. In some states, only one private entity could provide enrollment services, while in some other states multiple private entities could do so.

Why we have enrollment services

So what are “enrollment services”? I’ll defer to my former employer IDEMIA and use the description from its IdentoGO website.

IdentoGO by IDEMIA provides a wide range of identity-related services with our primary service being the secure capture and transmission of electronic fingerprints for employment, certification, licensing and other verification purposes – in professional and convenient locations.

Of course IdentoGO isn’t the only “channeler” in town. A number of these small businesses that provide enrollment services are allied with Certifix Livescan, others with Thales (Gemalto), others with Fieldprint, others with Biometrics4All, and others with many other FBI-approved channelers.

And in some cases, you can go to your local police agency and have the police capture your fingerprints for enrollment purposes.

The Ripon (California) Police Department provides LiveScan fingerprinting service to the public. https://riponpd.org/?page_id=1226

The channelers, and the hundreds upon hundreds of local businesses that are supported by them, handle some or all of a variety of fingerprint verification tasks, including (depending upon the individual state or Federal regulations) banking, education, firearm permits, health care, insurance, legal services, real estate, social services, state employment, transportation, and many others.

  • The basic theory is that if you are, for example, applying for a banking position, your fingerprints are searched against the FBI’s fingerprint database to make sure you don’t have a prior fraud conviction.
  • Or if you’re applying for an education position, you weren’t previously convicted of committing a crime at a school or with children.
  • Or if you’re applying for a transportation position, those multiple drunk driving convictions may cause a problem.

You get the idea.

Who are the end enrollment service providers?

So who are these small business owners who offer these livescan fingerprinting enrollment services?

In most cases, enrollment services are an add-on to a small firm’s existing business.

  • Maybe the business is a travel agency, and it offers fingerprinting along with other travel-related services (such as passport photos).
  • Maybe the business is a tax preparation service.
  • Maybe it’s an insurance agency.

So the business buys or leases a desktop livescan station, aligns with one of the major channelers, gets the necessary state approvals (in California, from the Office of the Attorney General), and waits for the applicants to…well, apply.

Livescan fingerprint capture isn’t idiot-proof, but if I can do it, you probably can also

“But wait,” you may say. “Isn’t the capture of fingerprints a specialized process requiring substantial forensic knowledge?”

She’s not a CSI, but she played one on TV. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17752707

While you do need to take care to capture fingerprints correctly, livescan systems have dramatically improved in quality, allowing a travel agent or insurance agent to capture high-quality prints.

(I’ll let you in on a little secret: even the law enforcement officers who capture livescan prints from criminals don’t necessarily have years of experience in fingerprint capture.)

As someone who has worked with livescan systems since the mid 1990s, I can attest to the dramatic improvements in livescan technology. I wasn’t around in the early 1990s when Printrak and Digital Biometrics partnered to provide an AFIS-compatible livescan, but I was certainly around when Printrak introduced its own livescan, the LiveScan Station 2000 (LSS 2000), that competed with Digital Biometrics, Identix, and other livescan providers. (Today, former competitors Digital Biometrics, Identix, and Printrak are all part of a single company, IDEMIA.) The LSS 2000 used a Printrak-manufactured capture device attached to a computer running Digital UNIX.

By the time I became a product manager (not for livescans, but for AFIS servers), Motorola introduced two new livescan devices, the LiveScan Station 3000U and the LiveScan Station 3000N. (The “U” stood for Unix, the “N” for the Windows NT family.) The capture device for these two workstations was manufactured by Heimann Biometric Systems, which through a series of subsequent mergers is now part of HID Global.

When you’re an employee of a fingerprinting company, you’re often asked to participate in fingerprint scanner tests. (At least you were in the days before GDPR and CCPA.) So the livescan engineers decided to compare the capture quality of the LSS 2000, the LSS 3000U, and the LSS 3000N. I joined several others in participating in the scanner tests.

But I ran into a problem.

At the time that I participated in this scanner test, I had been working with paper for about two decades, and as a result of this and other things I have very light fingerprints. This isn’t an issue if you’re using a subdermal fingerprint capture system (Lumidigm, one manufacturer of such systems, was also acquired by HID Global), but it’s definitely an issue with the average optical system.

Oh, and did I mention that we were capturing our OWN fingerprints as part of this test? Rather than getting a trainer or someone with law enforcement experience to take our prints, this motley assemblage of marketers and engineers was following the DIY route.

With the result that the fingerprints that I captured on the LSS 2000 were pretty much unusuable.

But the later generation LSS 3000 prints looked a lot better. (I believe that the LSS 3000N prints were the best, which heralded the last hurrah for UNIX workstations in the AFIS world, as Windows computers proved their ability to perform AFIS work.)

And of course time has not stood still since those experiments in the early 2000s. (Although you can still buy a LiveScan 3000N today, for the price of $1.00.)

Today you can buy livescan stations that capture prints at 1000 pixels per inch (ppi), 4 times the resolution of the 500 ppi stations that were prevalent in the 1990s and early 2000s. And frankly, that are still prevalent today; most law enforcement agencies see no need to buy the more expensive 1000 ppi stations, so 500 ppi stations still prevail.

So how does a customer select a livescan fingerprinting enrollment service provider?

So let’s say a customer is applying for a position at a bank or at a school or somewhere else that asks for a fingerprint check. In the state of California, there’s not just one place that you can go to get this service. For example, there are probably a dozen or more enrollment service providers within a few miles of Bredemarket’s corporate headquarters in Ontario.

So how does a customer select a livescan fingerprinting enrollment service provider?

Well, customers do so just like they do with any other business.

IdentoGO Mobile Enrollment RV. https://www.identogo.com/mobile-enrollment-rv
  • Maybe they saw a picture of the IdentoGO RV and that caused “IdentoGO” to stick in their mind when searching for an enrollment service provider.
  • Or maybe they’re driving down a street in the neighborhood and they see a sign that mentions “livescan fingerprinting.”
  • Or maybe they’re on Facebook and see a page that promotes a specific livescan fingerprint enrollment service provider.

The key for the enrollment service provider, of course, is to make sure that your message stays top of customer’s mind when the time comes for the customer to need your service.

  • Your message needs to appear where the customer will see it.
  • Your message has to speak to the customer’s needs.
  • And your message must explain how to obtain the service. Does the customer have to make an appointment? If so, how does the customer make the appointment?

If the customer never sees your message, it’s going to be a lot harder for the customer to use your business. While the California Office of the Attorney General does include a list of all of the authorized livescan fingerprinting providers in California, and all of the various channelers maintain their own lists, neither the Attorney General nor your friendly channeler is going to necessarily direct someone to YOUR business.

You need to let your customers know of your existence, and WHY your service BENEFITS them as opposed to the service down the street.

Bredemarket can help.

If you provide livescan fingerprinting enrollment services and need experienced and knowledgeable help in getting your message out to your customers, contact me:

The EUDCC and Covishield

Well, that was unexpected, at least by me.

I figured that discussion of the European Union Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) would focus on use of the certificate by residents of the EU.

However, the big debate right now is about how citizens of countries outside of the EU are affected. While the EUDCC is primarily designed for EU citizens, the EU has an interest in getting people from outside of the EU to travel to Europe and spend lots of euros and make everyone happy.

By Avij (talk · contribs) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30112364

However, some of the regulations that govern the EUDCC and the EU’s COVID response are actually hampering travel from outsiders.

And when words like “equitable” are being bandied about, people are going to take notice.

Let’s start by examining the list of vaccines that are approved in the European Union.

Four vaccines are currently approved for use in the EU: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Another four are under “rolling review” for possible approval: Russia’s Sputnik, China’s Sinovac, Germany’s CureVac and Novavax of the United States.

So if you received one of the first four vaccines, this can be listed on your EUDCC and you can go about your merry way.

But African governmental entities believe that a fifth vaccine, one that happens to be available in Africa, should be added to the list.

[W]hile the goal is for EU Member States to issue vaccination certificates regardless of the COVID-19 vaccine type used, the granting of a “green pass” applies, only to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation. Thus, while the AstraZeneca vaccine (ChAdOx1_nCoV-19) produced and authorized in Europe (Vaxzervria) is included, the same formation of the vaccine (Covishield) produced under license by the Serum Institute of India (SII), is excluded.

The TL;DR version: since Covishield is equivalent to Vaxzervria/AstraZeneca, people who received Covishield should get EU travel privileges.

Why does the same vaccine formulation have two different names? Because a special effort was mounted to provide vaccines to the Third World without endangering First World profits.

Covishield is the Indian counterpart of AstraZeneca-Oxford developed Vaxzervria and is identical to the one made in Europe. It has been widely distributed in many low and middle-income countries through the EU-supported COVAX programme. However the vaccine has not been included on the EUDCC because it is not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). 

The European Medicines Agency counters that Covishield is NOT the same as the European version of AstraZeneca, despite an identical formulation:

“Even though it may use an analogous production technology to Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca’s vaccine), Covishield as such is not currently approved under EU rules,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement to AFP. “This is because vaccines are biological products. Even tiny differences in the manufacturing conditions can result in differences in the final product, and EU law therefore requires the manufacturing sites and production process to be assessed and approved as part of the authorisation process.”

So that’s where things stand as of now. And they may remain this way unless there’s pressure on the EMA to revise its decision.

Now I’m wondering how many Nigerians…and how many Indians…and how many Chinese and Russians (remember that Sputnik and Sinovac aren’t approved either)…are choosing to forgo a European holiday this summer.

How 6 CFR 37 (REAL IDs) exhibits…federalism

The United States, like some other countries, reserves some responsibilities to lower subdivisions of the country, in this case the states. This concept is enshrined in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The 10th Amendment basically means that unless the Constitution explicitly speaks on a matter, the states can do whatever they want. However, the Federal government still has ways of making the states obey its will.

States are NOT mandated to issue REAL IDs

If you look at the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 6, Volume 1, Chapter I, Part 37 (one online source here), you will see the official laws that govern the issuance of REAL ID Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards. Part 37 is divided into several subparts:

  • General.
  • Minimum Documentation, Verification, and Card Issuance Requirements.
  • Other Requirements.
  • Security at DMVs and Driver’s License and Identification Card Production Facilities.
  • Procedures for Determining State Compliance.
  • Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards Issued Under section 202(d)(11) of the REAL ID Act.

A pretty comprehensive list here. But that very first section, “General,” begins with the following:

Subparts A through E of this part apply to States and U.S. territories that choose to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that can be accepted by Federal agencies for official purposes.

Note the word “choose,” and the phrase “accepted by Federal agencies for official purposes.” In essence, it is incorrect to say that states are MANDATED by law to issue REAL IDs. States have the power to choose NOT to issue REAL IDs, and the Federal government has no Constitutional power to force them to do so.

So many states DIDN’T issue REAL IDs

And for many years, many states of various political persuasions adopted that view. Whether “red” or “blue,” many states held to the belief that REAL ID was an unconscionable imposition on state sovereignty, and that Bush or Obama or Trump didn’t have the power to tell states what to do with their state driver’s licenses.

I ran into this personally in my proposal work. There was a brief period of time in which MorphoTrak was bidding on driver’s license opportunities (thus competing with our sister company MorphoTrust), and I remember reviewing a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by one of the states. I won’t reveal the state, but the opening section of its RFP made very clear that the state was NOT asking vendors to implement Federal REAL ID regulations, or asking vendors to help the state issue REAL IDs.

So some states declined to participate in REAL ID efforts for years…and years.

And the Federal government couldn’t dictate that states issue REAL IDs.

So the Federal government said that states don’t HAVE to issue REAL IDs, but…

But the Federal government COULD dictate which IDs could be “accepted by Federal agencies for official purposes.”

  • Accepted IDs included passports, Federal government-issued identification cards, various other national IDs…and REAL IDs issued by the states. Other IDs issued by the states were not acceptable.
  • Official purposes included visiting a military base (Federal control, not state control), visiting your Congressperson’s office (Federal control, not state control)…and the big one, entering the secure areas of an airport (again, Federal control, not state control).
Transportation Security Administration Checkpoint at John Glenn Columbus International Airport. By Michael Ball – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77279000

So it’s pretty simple. If you want to get on a plane, even for a domestic flight, you have to pay $100 or so to get a passport. Well, unless your state happens to be one of the states that issues REAL IDs.

(Now large states with multiple major cities such as California and Texas could conceivably try to get around this by setting up a whole system of intrastate airports that only flew within the state, but that would be costly.)

Even with this, the REAL ID implementation date has been delayed several times (most recently due to COVID), but as of today, all 50 states and most U.S. territories are finally issuing REAL IDs, including the unnamed state (and others) that refused to even consider issuing REAL IDs a decade ago.

And that, my friends, is how the Federal government gets what it wants.

(Bredemarket Premium) July update to a June post

By Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13429378

I have an update to something that I previously wrote for my Bredemarket Premium subscribers.

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