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VAMPIRE tactical forensic device: Q&A with Adam Weiner of Booz Allen Hamilton


Law enforcement is increasingly adopting biometric technology to equip police officers with more efficient and timely approaches to criminal investigation.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s VAMPIRE tactical forensic device has become one of the leading biometric solutions adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies to conduct real-time forensic collection and analysis in field.

Most recently, the Baltimore police force purchased five VAMPIRE portable devices to help crime scene technicians to better solve criminal cases.

Equipped with fingerprint analysis capability, VAMPIRE is able to conduct real-time forensic analysis in the field, performing fast, accurate, on-site latent and live fingerprint identification and matching analysis.

BiometricUpdate.com recently had the opportunity to discuss VAMPIRE fingerprint devices, their capabilities, and how they differ from their competition, with Adam Weiner, a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton.

In your opinion, how long do you think it will take for law enforcement agencies to fully adopt biometrics technology?

Adam Weiner: It is already happening. In the general sense, law enforcement has a very long history of adopting certain biometric technologies to solve crimes. The capabilities of large national law enforcement database systems are being constantly and rapidly improved through enhancing latent fingerprint, iris, and face identification. With VAMPIRE, we are already seeing a natural and rapid adoption. We attribute this to the fact that the device neither replaces nor interferes with traditional forensic lab processes – it simply augments and delivers a mobile version of an already-trusted methodology.

Ultimately, decisions must still delivered by forensic experts but VAMPIRE can make that process faster. VAMPIRE offers the community the ability to tactically triage and perform elimination matches in real-time at the scene –which means reduced workloads for overtaxed labs and lower costs. This, along with the device’s ability to retain a copy of important evidence that can be damaged during routine lifting, all favors VAMPIRE for rapid adoption.

How does VAMPIRE work?

VAMPIRE, a simple and easy to operate rugged mobile tactical device supports in-field biometric and forensic collection and decision-making. We often say that “if you can operate a cellphone, you can learn to use VAMPIRE effectively in less than an hour.” At Booz Allen’s own biometrics and custom electronics manufacturing engineering facilities, we integrated state-of-the-art hardware sensors such as a live fingerprint scanner, scaling lasers, and on-board alternate light sources. Our core Android-based mobile platform runs a sophisticated and intuitive software application that allows both expert forensic examiners and less-experienced operators to perform high quality evidence collection, evidence triage, print elimination and transmission to federal, state and local databases, and rapid on-board matching. Using lasers, VAMPIRE scales the latent and applies image enhancement algorithms to clean the background clutter common with latent lifts. Then, the operator can compare the prints to an onboard watch list, against other latents found at the active -or prior- scene, or even to the prints of live or deceased individuals that might be present.

How does the product differ from other competing devices on the market?

VAMPIRE specializes in forensic collection and identification capabilities, while also offering the traditional biometric capabilities found in other mobile identification devices. With integrated illumination sources, crime scene entry data, and extremely high quality optics, VAMPIRE is built for forensic activities and rugged environments. It’s heavily ruggedized so it will withstand being banged around, and it can be operated in the rain. It’s not uncommon for devices to become contaminated during forensic activities; VAMPIRE can be washed. Additionally, our algorithms, optics, and user-experience are all highly optimized for latent work.

What sets VAMPIRE apart is that it does not need to be connected to a network. Booz Allen offers a variety of wireless communication options for integration with an organization’s existing enterprise and security systems, and we designed and built early on to enable full integration with practically any existing back-end system. For rural and global environments without network connectivity, or for organizations that don’t have a central database to search, VAMPIRE also operates effectively independently.

Does VAMPIRE encrypt the fingerprint data or offer any other security measures to prevent sensitive biometric data from potentially falling into the wrong hands?

VAMPIRE leverages an Android-based mobile platform that is listed on the NSA Commercial Solutions for Classified Program list. Nearly all organizations approach security differently and requirements vary, so we offer a platform that gives an organization extreme flexibility in how they choose to securely incorporate the device into their environment. VAMPIRE gives users options to secure data with built-in Android encryption, with MDM based encryption software and policies, or with commercially available secure data containers.

Aside from law enforcement, what are some other areas of applications of VAMPIRE?

VAMPIRE allows operators to rapidly connect the identities of enrolled subjects, live persons, deceased persons, and/or forensic evidence. These capabilities are critical and relevant to defense missions, immigration and border control enforcement, disaster response, healthcare applications such as patient identification or vaccination/drug dispensation, and even advanced corporate fraud and loss prevention.

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