ICE agents collect biometric ID in the field

DIG IT AWARD FINALIST: MOBILE

ICE agents collect biometric ID in the field

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents responding to a suspicious situation can’t exactly ask persons of interest to wait while their laptop powers up and looks for an internet connection. That’s why officials created an app -- Eagle Directed Identification Environment (EDDIE) -- that gives all 12,000 ICE officers the ability to collect biometric data in the field using their agency-issued Apple iPhone and a pocket-size Bluetooth-connected fingerprint scanner.

Dig IT Award Finalists

The GCN Dig IT Awards celebrate discovery and innovation in government IT.

There are 36 finalists this year. Each will be profiled in the coming days, and the winners for each category will be announced at the Oct. 13 Dig IT Awards gala.

See the full list of 2016 Dig IT Award Finalists

The app is user friendly. After it authorizes the officer using it, he or she takes a photo of the subject while the phone’s Global Positioning System collects location information. After incorporating the fingerprint scan, EDDIE searches multiple biometric databases, including Interpol’s, and returns results in less than a minute. This lets officers quickly know whether someone is a known risk.

When agents go to an arrest site, they can’t always have a laptop with them. “I might be somewhere with an operation, I might jump in somebody else’s car,” said Rodger Werner, chief of the Information Sharing and Infrastructure Management unit, which develops IT systems and identifies new technology. “I’m always going to have my iPhone and a portable scanner to put in my pocket, but carrying around a laptop increases the complexity.”

The app cost $180,000 to develop initially, while the cost of providing laptops and fingerprint scanners to every officer would have been in the millions of dollars, Werner said. But time saved is the real benefit. Officers don’t have to bring a suspect to a booking location to take fingerprints. With the biometric data collected on site, staff back at the office can prepare the paperwork to speed processing.

“It promotes our public safety and national security,” while ensuring we don’t take the wrong people  into custody, Werner said.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

inside gcn

  • cloud services (jijomathaidesigners/Shutterstock.com)

    AWS GovCloud gets more enterprise services

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group