Key to Security: Biometric Standards

[ Music ]>>Please look at
the blue light.>>Narrator: Easily and accurately ascertaining
the identity of individuals is what
Biometric Systems are all about. They do that “identifying” based on physiological characteristics
like– but not limited to– fingerprints, iris
patterns, or facial features. Given today’s ever-escalating
security and safety challenges, the application of
those technologies has greatly expanded. Now extensively used
by the government and the private sector, biometric systems are
a significant component of the essential
and ongoing effort to safeguard the United
States and its people. It is imperative that
biometric systems be continually and innovatively improved as
their applications are widened. That is precisely
what scientists at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology– or N.I.S.T.– are doing! Partnering with the
Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, and virtually every other
agency that has biometrics as a core part of its mission, they are putting NIST’s
long experience in the field of human identification
systems to good use.>>Michael D. Garris: NIST
has been working in the area of biometrics for over 40 years. With the events of nine-eleven,
we all had a wake-up call and realized that
Homeland Security needed to be greatly improved and biometric technologies
was identified as a key enabling technology. And so, with our track record,
we found ourselves very quickly in the middle of a
government-wide effort to collect more biometrics,
higher quality biometrics, to share that data appropriately
across agencies and to make sure that the systems that are in
place are accurate and reliable. [ Music ] In regards to biometrics,
security and safety, they
go hand in hand. And so, biometrics, they’re
used for controlling access to a facility, securing a
facility, protecting access to computer networks,
combating fraud, fighting crime, screening people at borders. And in terms of safety,
biometrics can help with identity management for
people like first responders at the scene of natural
disasters, for the soldier in theater, for border patrol, and for the police
officer on the street. [ Music ] Biometric standards and
their guidance are vital to build effective
biometric systems. And the standards that we work
on help to provide open exchange of data between agencies and
their systems which are built by different companies. It also helps to define methods for performance testing…and
then one really important aspect of biometric standards
is interoperability. And in other words, making sure that all the government’s
biometric systems work well together. And beyond that, standards
are good for commerce. They result in greater
innovation by private industry and they help to lower barriers for new companies
to enter the market. The activities that we’re
highlighting today are a few of many activities
that are going on in biometrics at N.I.S.T. [ Music ]>>Dr. Ross J. Micheals:
Originally, we were approached by the Transportation
Security Administration– TSA– and they needed to
collect some irises for iris recognition evaluation. When you’re doing
a data collection, the sensors are pretty cheap. Right? It’s the time that
you get people to come in, present their biometrics,
explain to everybody, so there’s a large investment. So, it turned out, well,
if we’re taking irises, let’s take face, as well,
and, oh, if you’re taking iris and face, might as well
take fingerprint, too. And what happened
was we realized that there really isn’t anything
out there that would allow us to easily choose
different vendors, different manufacturers,
different sensors, so we built it ourselves.>>Narrator: What they built
was a set of software libraries from which people could create
advanced multimodal biometric applications with a
range of benefits– including a very surprising one.>>Dr. Ross J. Micheals: A
major advantage of MBARK is that its public domain…anyone
can take these libraries and do anything they
want with it. They can commercialize it. They can put it into a product. It’s often used in
research, labs all across, actually all across the world. [ Music ]>>Mary Frances Theofanos:
Biometric usability is the study of biometric systems so that
we can understand the extent to which, how users use a
product with efficiency, effectiveness, and
user satisfaction to achieve their goals in
a specified context of use.>>Narrator: That
“context of use” is obvious at U.S. ports of entry. There, NIST research has
strongly impacted how US– VISIT is implemented. Especially in taking
fingerprints.>>Mary Frances Theofanos:
Height angle research has led to US-VISIT angling the scanners
on all of their counters in all of their airports.>>Narrator: This adjustment in
the fingerprint-taking process, one of many adjustments
suggested by N.I.S.T. after careful study,
has resulted in making that process more convenient
for both visitors and Customs and Border Patrol Officers. It has also improved the quality
of the fingerprint image. Another result of N.I.S.T.
research was the simplifying of critical instruction symbols
and pictograms pertaining to the fingerprint process. In a situation where most
visitors don’t speak English, these had to be both perfectly
clear and culturally sensitive.>>Mary Frances Theofanos:
And in many cultures, hand signals can mean so many
different things and have such cultural differences and
so we have to be so careful with hand gestures and so
fingerprint symbols can be so culturally sensitive that we
really had to study this issue and come down with very
precise pictograms and symbols to define these individual
steps. Before we had way
too much information, way too many abstract
pictograms, and so we’ve greatly
simplified our symbols and now we’ve really increased
throughput tremendously because we’ve just
simplified the whole process. [ Music ]>>Michael Indovina: There’s two
major varieties of fingerprints. There’s latent fingerprints
and conventional fingerprints. Latent fingerprints are
collected forensically off of surfaces, off from
residual marks on surfaces. Conventional fingerprints
are directly captured from fingers using ink
or live-scan devices. Latent fingerprints tend to have
less area and lesser quality than conventional fingerprints which makes them
harder to match.>>Narrator: Whether
conventional or latent fingerprints,
agencies like the F.B.I. and Homeland Security want to
capture and match them faster, more accurately and with less
human intervention in order to both apprehend more criminals and stop terrorists before
they can enter the country. Scientists at N.I.S.T. are
evaluating fingerprint-matching technologies designed
to do just that. Their work has wide-ranging
benefits!>>Michael Indovina: In my view,
when you conduct evaluations of technology in an open manner, you’re actually stimulating
improvements to that technology, you’re promoting competition
in the marketplace, and you’re informing the
consumer of those technologies. By evaluating these technologies and ranking them you’re
allowing government agencies such as Homeland
Security or F.B.I. to make better purchasing
decisions. We’re also putting out a
lot of detailed information about the characteristics
of these technologies so when they do put
these into operation, they can use them
in an optimal way. [ Music ]>>Elham Tabassi:
Biometric sample quality, the way we define it, is
about the matchability of a biometric sample. A sample is of good quality
if it can be matched correctly and the expected
recognition error of a good quality sample is low. A sample is a bad
quality if it results in a higher recognition error.>>Narrator: Fundamentally,
then, the key to biometric
systems effectively carrying out their function is the
quality of the captured image. Assessing that quality– and developing standards
for such assessment– plays a vital role in
improving the performance of biometric systems, in
improving their accuracy and efficiency during
the capture process. This, in turn, leads to
greater system-level accuracy in national databases
so critical to the nation’s security.>>Elham Tabassi: If
quality can be improved, either by sensor design or
by better capture conditions or by compliance
to some standards, better performance
can be achieved.>>Narrator: For those
aspects of quality that cannot be designed in, a mechanism to measure
quality is necessary.>>Elham Tabassi: There
is a need for standardized and interoperable
way of measuring and exchanging quality scores
and that has been the bulk and the focus of the
biometric quality program at N.I.S.T. We have been working with international
standard organizations to develop standards for sharing
and measuring quality scores.>>Narrator: These
are just samplings of the biometric activities
of NIST scientists. There are many others. All are aimed at
developing, honing, testing, and evaluating biometric
standards and systems. And, all help ensure that
taxpayer dollars spent on biometrics deliver accurate,
reliable systems that work to keep this country
and its citizens safe. [ Music ]

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