Biometrics faces interoperability gap

Biometrics faces interoperability gap

A "huge interoperability gap" separates Defense Department biometric standards from longstanding data practices in law enforcement, says Rick Randall of the DOD Biometrics Management Office.

DOD is "very committed to the BioAPI. When we started 18 months ago, there were no conformance standards for biometric products," said Randall, a contract employee from Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va.

He spoke today at the Inside ID Conference and Expo 2004 in Washington. He stepped in for Biometrics Management Office director John Woodward Jr., who was called to testify on Capitol Hill.

New iris- and facial-recognition technologies have no counterparts in law enforcement's Electronic Fingerprint Transmission Specification 7.0 or the existing formats for intergovernmental exchange of fingerprint, scar and tattoo data, Randall said. "Mug shot data is not detailed enough for compatibility with facial-recognition data," he said.

The office's main focus now is "pursuing a biometric DOD Application Profile" with different data requirements for friendly forces, enemy combatants and civilian internees, Randall said. "We are leading development of a BioAPI conformance test suite and a prototype finger image and finger image quality measurement tool."

Also, he said, the office is trying to expand the membership of the DOD Biometric Standards Working Group to include more government agencies.

Conformance testing, he added, differs from performance testing of biometric products, which is done by the department's Biometrics Fusion Center in West Virginia. "Conformance testing involves whether a product's data formatting matches the standard's bit format," he said.

Another huge interoperability gap, he said, also looms in DOD's drive toward network-centric operations and Web services. "There is essentially no connectivity with those worlds," he said.

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