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Biometrics for government & law enforcement: Q&A with Andrew T. Hildebrand and James Loudermilk


Technological advances in mobile and multimodal analysis — including complex areas like video analytics, facial imagery, Rapid DNA and balistocardiographic identity — are advancing and refining biometrics to more effectively meet the needs of law enforcement and national security agencies.

Government and industry experts will attend the 10th annual Biometrics for Government & Law Enforcement, held January 25-27, 2016, to discuss these issues and the development of the next generation of analytics-based biometrics.

This year’s conference will feature a Technical Training Day that includes a site tour of CBP/DHS new Maryland Test Facility (MdTF), a National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Biometrics Domain (NBD) Training Workshop, sessions focused on mobile and multi-modal biometrics innovation, and a comprehensive look at video analytics for real time authentication.

Additionally, the extensive lineup of speakers will feature James Loudermilk, senior level technologist at Department of Justice, who will discuss the ‘Future Requirements for DOJ Biometrics Technology and Policy’.

In an interview with BiometricUpdate.com, Andrew T. Hildebrand, conference director at Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA), and Loudermilk discuss the upcoming Biometrics for Government & Law Enforcement conference, some of the key issues that will be addressed at the show, and the role of biometrics in the government and law enforcement sectors.

Is there a theme for this year’s event?

Andrew T. Hildebrand: This year’s theme is Identity Innovation: Requirements for Advanced Recognition, Processing, and Analytics for Government and Law Enforcement Applications.

Over the last decade of holding this conference, how has the role of biometrics in government and law enforcement changed?

AH: The demand for biometrics capabilities has grown with the technology, which has evolved at an exponential rate across the board. Interagency interoperability is key. Leveraging commercial off-the-shelf solutions has enabled government agencies like CBP and the FBI to protect our borders and our citizens around the world at reduced cost to the taxpayer. Places like the Biometrics Center of Excellence are now exploring and advancing the use of new and enhanced biometric technologies and capabilities and integrating them into operations, delivering state-of-the-art biometric tools and technologies to law enforcement and intelligence personnel working in communities around the globe.

The use of biometric technologies often brings up privacy concerns among the public. What are law enforcement and government agencies doing to protect the public’s biometric details from being misused or stolen?

AH: Privacy and identity protection are a great concern, and something I think the federal government is increasing taking very seriously. This is where cybersecurity for biometric systems come into play, and an area in which I think we will see significant growth in the coming years.

What direction do you see biometrics heading in the next few years?

AH: I think we will see increased interest in new modalities – such as balistocardiography and others – as well as increased effectiveness of multimodal analysis (expanding reach and enable flexibility while maintaining speed and accuracy guidelines) and patch-based recognition to maximize the useful data available to the government end-user. I also think we will see increased interest in “plug-and-play” and open architecture systems to enable agility in our large scale systems. It’s an exciting time in the field.

What are some of the main topics that will be covered at the event?

James A. Loudermilk: Some of the key topics for this year include facial recognition at the border, mobile biometrics, voice and video analytics, , leveraging cloud computing, Rapid DNA requirements, among others. We have speakers from the major government biometrics capability provider OBIM as well as FBI Science and Technology Directorate, the FBI BCOE and CJIS division, as well as CBP, USCIS, ICE-HSI, DoD and other government stakeholders.

What are some key challenges in the area of biometrics that you are facing at the Department of Justice?

JL: Our longest operating program – fingerprints – has achieved unprecedented search reliability at 99.6% TAR with a 0.1% FRR. Which is wonderful. However, our daily volume averages more than 145,000 tenprint checks a day, 365 days per year. With that volume of activity there remain a lot of potential misses. And some misses can have serious consequences. We need to improve the image quality of the underlying fingerprint data in the criminal master file. Commercial surveillance cameras have proliferated and increasingly criminal activity is captured on video and slow scan systems. Again, image quality is an issue. Face matching performance has dramatically improved over the past two decades, yet still often produces an excessive volume of leads referred to human analysts. The ability to effect cross-spectral matching between low light and infrared surveillance imagery and conventional visible light arrest mugshots falls well short of desired performance.

The FBI is seeking vendors for a mobile biometrics app, can you tell us who they are considering for this application, and how exactly you see this app being implemented in the field?

JL: No. Procurement related activity is extremely sensitive. But what I can tell you is that the Next Generation Identification program introduced a fingerprint Repository of Individuals of Special Concern (RISC) and mobile fingerprint “stoplight” matching has been deployed as a national service. We have had well over a million searches (searches only, enrollment must be done subsequent to arrest at the booking station) with about a 7% “hit” rate. This tool can greatly reduce officer workload as well as reduce the number of arrests in ambiguous identity situations. Approaching half the states are participating in this program although as yet relatively few officers have been issued mobile fingerprinting equipment.

What are you most excited about in the area of biometrics technology, and are you personally involved in any new projects for solving identification issues?

JL: Both personally and organizationally we are very excited about the prospects of introducing rapid DNA collection and analysis into the booking environment with its potential of — linking arrestees to serious violent crimes while the suspect is still in custody. The technology is showing great progress and the necessary infrastructure changes have been identified. However, as director Comey recently noted during testimony it does require legislation before the technology can be used outside accredited DNA laboratories. Video analytics offers great promise and we are seeing significant progress.

What are you speaking about during your session at Biometrics for Government and Law Enforcement, and what do you look forward to about the event?

JL: Our FBI biometrics program is extensive and advancing on all fronts. I will do a program update addressing friction ridge (known subject fingerprints, Palmprints, and latent fingerprints), Rapid DNA, Face matching, iris matching, speaker identification and end-to-end video. What I look forward to is interacting with the attendees and hearing the challenges, and solutions, of other agencies.

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