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US military integrates biometrics-enabled watchlist with DoD ABIS

Colonel shares insights with SIA
US military integrates biometrics-enabled watchlist with DoD ABIS

Current DoD biometric initiatives, including the expansion of DoD’s Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) were outlined at a recent online event for members of the Security Industry Association (SIA).

Colonel Senodja ‘Frank’ Sundiata-Walker, who is a project manager for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) biometrics, addressed members in the event hosted by SIA’s Identity and Biometric Technology Advisory Board (IBTAB) and sponsored by NEC America and Idemia National Security Solutions (NSS).

DoD is working on multi-modal fusion matching, and wants to further improve its biometric face-matching capability through artificial intelligence and machine learning development. While fingerprints remain the most widely-used biometric modality for DoD, Walker notes that the ability to capture facial images or threat actors, if matched by recognition accuracy, could significantly enhance the U.S. military’s ability to deny them anonymity. Face biometrics capture technology has also been improving, with long-range and infrared cameras enabling imaging at a distance and in challenging conditions.

Voice biometrics are increasingly captured by American armed forces, but remain a small share of DoD’s total biometric records.

The work on developing a device with a small form factor for capturing palm print biometrics was also reviewed by Walker.

The Department’s Biometrics-enabled watchlist (BEWL) has been integrated with the DoD ABIS to promote an open, modular architecture and avoid vendor lock-in as it expands the capability.

Walker also shared some of the longer-term opportunities for research and advanced technology contracts coming up, including technologies for new modalities, faces in crowds, and non-traditional latent DNA collection. DoD also wants to push matching capabilities closer to the network edge to deliver responses to biometric queries more quickly to soldiers in the field.

NEC’s Benji Hutchinson asked about the possibility of DoD standing up a marketplace to provide its divisions with interoperable solutions, and Walker replied that with proprietary biometric templates and a lack of backwards compatibility causing problems, the Department is focussed on aligning its systems around a unified standard.

Idemia’s Theresa Wu asked about DoD’s efforts to identify threats online, and Walker discussed the Department’s integration of different capabilities to that end.

Other questions referred to passive voice biometrics collection, DoD work on detecting deepfakes, and DoD’s international collaborations on biometric technology standards.

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