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Hundreds of participants test high-throughput systems for DHS biometrics rally


More than 400 paid volunteers took part in the U.S. Department of Homeland Services (DHS) 2019 Biometric Technology Rally earlier this month, as test subjects for 12 companies in DHS’ Maryland Test Facility (MdTF), FedScoop reports.

Participating test subjects were divided into 12 lanes to test how different biometric technologies from invitees would perform on long lines of people. The tests sought to determine if systems would capture enough data to identify individuals, how quickly they could do so, and whether the technology was intuitive to a diverse group of users. Face, fingerprint, and iris technology providers were invited to meet the challenge of developing a high-throughput biometric system.

“Our real focus here is to work on these technologies, to make sure that they are more effective, and to figure out how to make sure that they are more likely to be acceptable, easy to use for the general public,” DHS Biometric Technology Center Director Arun Vemury told reporters at the event. “We don’t just want to have technologies that are out there that are difficult or hard to use. All of these things lead to failures, lead to problems, lead to negative perceptions on the use of the technologies.”

One company told FedScoop that the next best way to collect performance data is to commission a study. With the Science and Technology Directorate paying for the rally, DHS can both observe and give feedback on the latest technology. Participating companies included IDEMIA, which tested a combined face and fingerprint contactless scanner, and RealNetworks’ SAFR, which will decide based on the test results if it will invest further in live video facial biometrics, according to the report.

FedScoop also says that while Vemury referred to the need to make the technology “publicly acceptable,” there was little discussion of privacy or when consent is necessary.

In the second portion of the rally, DHS will test 15 matching algorithms.

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