Agencies need to develop biometric collection standards

The Government Accountability Office has recommended that agencies develop standards for the collection of biometric data. The lack of standards and the use of proprietary formats has inhibited information sharing, according to a new GAO report issued Oct. 15.

Standardization is important because the raw data is often not very useful. For example, software extracts information about fingerprints, creating an analysis of the print features that serve as the basis for comparison, said Anil Jain, a biometrics expert in Michigan State University's computer science department.

However, the data is useful only when compared to other data generated by the same set of algorithms ? which often means it's useful only with prints analyzed by the same vendors' systems, he said.

"So how that information is extracted, how it is stored and how it matched is proprietary," Jain said. "Vendors don't want to share what they've extracted from each fingerprint image because that could reveal something about their proprietary algorithm."

Meanwhile, it's possible to share the images of fingerprints, but that doesn't help much because the matching is based on the features that are extracted and analyzed, not the raw image.

Another issue on which agencies have to agree is how many fingerprints to take. In law enforcement, the standard is 10 fingers. For the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, only two fingerprints were collected until recently.

Some progress has been made in defining a standard template for collecting fingerprint data, but agencies have to be careful how far those standards go, Jain said.

"There are only certain common things we can standardize because the vendors do not want to reveal everything they use," he said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • VIDEO: Explore the 2019 M&A Trends

    Editor Nick Wakeman interviews Kevin DeSanto of the investment bank KippsDeSanto about the highlights of their annual M&A survey and trends driving acquisitions in the federal space. Read More

  • PROJECT 38 PODCAST

    In our latest Project 38 Podcast, editor Nick Wakeman and senior staff writer Ross Wilkers discuss the major news events so far in 2019 and what major trends are on the horizon. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.