DHS S&T Launches Biometric Technology Rally

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) branch is beginning a series of technology rallies to evaluate face and iris systems that meet the operational needs of department components.

The first event will be held in March 2018 at S&T’s Maryland Test Facility (MdTF) in Upper Marlboro, Md., with the goal being to challenge industry to provide high-throughput face or iris technology systems. At the facility, S&T will bring together the technology vendors and volunteers to test the technologies.

DHS uses biometrics, primarily fingerprints, to identify foreign nationals attempting to enter the country legally and illegally, and to help with criminal history and background checks of U.S. citizens applying for certain benefits, such as entry into the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck trusted traveler program.

Customs and Border Protection already uses fingerprint scanners to verify the identities of foreign nationals entering the U.S. and is evaluating  face recognition technology to check the identities of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals departing the U.S. by plane. The purpose of the agency’s Biometric Exit program is to help ensure that foreign nationals leave the U.S. in accordance with their visas.  

“The use case for the Biometric Technology Rally is traveler identification in a high-throughput security environment using an unmanned system,” S&T says. “During the rally, participants’ systems will be evaluated on several metrics with the use of scenario testing.”

User ease of use will be a key ingredient to successful technologies, according to S&T.

“Successful submissions will demonstrate intuitive integrated biometric systems capable of meeting or exceeding rally performance metrics,” S&T says.

DHS is working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology on the rally.

Applications are due by Dec. 8 and vendors receive conditional acceptance notifications by Dec. 18 with final acceptances of up to 12 systems planned by Feb. 7, 2018. Testing of the systems will begin on March 13.

S&T says it will leverage its new Biometric Technology Engine (BT-E) to challenge industry during the rally. The BT-E “establishes an enduring core capability by leveraging S&T’s biometric expertise and ensuring the re-use of biometric tools, methods, and best practices, as well as support robust testing and evaluation at the MdTF to inform applications of biometric technology to specific operation use cases across Apex programs, S&T programs, DHS, and the Homeland Security Enterprise,” S&T says.

Apex programs are managed by S&T and are aimed at meeting one of the branch’s strategic priorities or an operational DHS component’s need.

DHS used the MdTF to help CBP evaluate biometric technologies and related operating concepts for its fledgling Biometric Exit program. The facility is a controlled, reconfigurable environment for laboratory research. As with the upcoming rally, S&T has used volunteers previously as part of its evaluation of biometric technologies and operating concepts.

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