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OBIM’s Futures Identity team looks at needs for tomorrow and three decades ahead

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OBIM’s Futures Identity team looks at needs for tomorrow and three decades ahead
 

Dr. Alicia Locker is an academic engagement specialist with the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM)’s Futures Identity Team at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In a recent European Association of Biometrics (EAB) members lunch talk, she explained what OBIM does, and what its current future identity initiatives are trained on in working towards its mission to provide DHS and partners with biometric identity services that enable national security and public safety decision making.

Effectively, OBIM provides biometric matching, sharing and analysis for various components of DHS, including national security priorities and service to immigration. It is the largest biometric capability in the U.S. government, comprising two streams. The Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) is its well-known searchable biometric repository, which contains more than 300 million biometric fingerprint identities, one billion enrolled face images, and 9 million pairs of iris biometrics. The smaller Biometric Support Center (BSC) offers identification and verification services on-demand, 24-7. OBIM also works with friendly foreign governments in Canada, the UK, Australia and elsewhere.

The Futures Identity (FI) team, says Locker, is tasked with positioning OBIM for the future through innovation, capability advancement, strategic engagement and analysis, and architectures and standards.

“OBIM FI spans the full technology readiness level spectrum in the work that we do,” says Locker. “We can do different research, we can examine different studies. We also work with proof of concepts and prototypes for different capabilities. And we do all of this because we have a pretty large remit, which is to think about what is needed tomorrow, all the way to about 30 years from now.”

Four priority waves for now, more on the horizon

Using the metaphor of waves rocking a boat, Locker says FI has focused on four waves in the near-term: an IDENT Exchange Messaging (IXM) conformance tool, a multimodal biometric fusion algorithm, a person-centric identity concept, and OBIM Mobile.

The multimodal biometric fusion algorithm is intended to enhance authentication and identification confidence and to reduce overall transaction time and cost by using different modalities together. “Our hope was we would fuse together different modalities to help improve matching accuracy results, send fewer travelers to secondary screening, and identify more criminals in the U.S. by improving match scores with these different modalities.” She calls it a vendor-agnostic, scalable and extensible micro-service.

Person-centric identity (PCI) is a search tool based on the idea that individuals are the focus of where data is stored. OBIM Mobile is an IXM conformant mobile biometric collection system based on technology developed by the Department of Defense.

FI is about futures, however, and Locker says her team has its sights set on three additional long-term concerns in biometrics: new technologies and advancements, human or behavioral factors in biometric data collection, and how to safeguard the IDENT biometric repository against advancing threats. New tech includes contactless fingerprint capture tools and craniofacial structural progression analysis that looks at how faces change in childhood or adolescence, while the behavioral angle explores improved training methods for human biometric examiners. When it comes to countering emerging threats, FI is working with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab on PAD tech, and also engaging with international government and biometrics organizations to align on goals and principles.

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