Biometric Identification Management and the Department of Defense

biometric identification management technology

Can we attribute the success of biometric identification management technology in part on the Department of Defense? (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The following is a guest post written by Russel Cooke.

Observe any human being and the attributes that make us unique. The measurement and analysis of physical characteristics as a means of identification has always been easy to imagine and to some extent, easy to implement - as long as the user was resigned to the fact that the method of verification was qualitative and not quantitative. Even with this limitation, the technology could be used quite broadly as a way of developing an educated guess as to who someone was. It’s that quantitative measure of certainty that becomes the breakthrough which dramatically advances the technology and makes it indispensable as a tool for security and investigation.

The journey to achieving quantitative and automated biometrics developed into a specialized knowledge base which later became it’s own branch of scientific research. The list of attributes from which biometrics could be measured expanded to include one’s signature, palm, hand geometry, fingerprint, face, vascular pattern, speech, iris, and DNA from multiple sources on the body.

It’s the Department of Defense, sometimes working in collaboration with the FBI and other agencies, that made intense and concerted efforts to bring this technology to fruition.

Biometrics Milestones:

In 1993 the Department of Defense initiates the Face Recognition Technology program known as FERET. It was sponsored through 1997 by the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) and the DoD Counterdrug Technology Development Program Office in an effort to encourage the development of face recognition algorithms and technology. During that same period, both military and civilian advancements in biometrics were made:

  • Development of an iris prototype unit begins
  • FacE REcognition Technology (FERET) program is initiated
  • First iris recognition algorithm is patented (US5291560 A)
  • Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) competition is held
  • Palm System is benchmarked
  • INSPASS is implemented
  • Iris prototype becomes available as a commercial product
  • Hand geometry is implemented at the Olympic Games
  • NIST begins hosting annual speaker recognition evaluations

In 2004, there was a flurry of activity, as many of the advancement made during the 1990’s matured and could be put to use. In that year, the Department of Defense implements the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).  Designed to improve the US Government’s ability to track and identify national security threats, the system included methods of collecting and storing fingerprint, mug shot, voice, iris, and DNA data from enemy combatants, captured insurgents, and various persons of interest. Also in that year, a presidential directive calls for mandatory identification card for all federal employees and contractors and a palm print database is deployed in the US.
The implementation of biometrics has been increasingly active, if not especially overt. In the case of facial recognition, the technology is software-based, and can be adapted to cameras that have already been installed.

On the Horizon: Some of the technologies under development include “Field-Deployable Rapid DNA Analysis” and international collaborations for automated biometric upgrades. Adaptations of (“soft biometrics”) to social media (for example) are also receiving attention as part of the next generation of biometric technologies. This includes ear recognition, which is now being considered by some to be more effective than facial recognition.

biometric identification management and new biometric modalities on the horizonRussel Cooke is a journalist and business consultant. His fascination with technology often leads him away from his business, and he considers writing about it as a passion. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.

Yemen Deploys M2SYS TrueVoter™ Biometric Voter Registration Solution

TrueVoter biometric voter registration solution from M2SYS Technology

Yemen’s decision to deploy the TrueVoter™ biometric voter registration system will require all citizens to register their biometric credentials to vote in the upcoming elections.

Today, we were excited to announce that the country of Yemen has deployed our TrueVoter™ biometric voter registration solution that allows for the fast, accurate, and uncontested enrollment and identification of voters for the upcoming constitutional referendum and national elections. Working in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Yemen’s Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) chose the TrueVoter™ biometric voter registration solution to help reduce the number of electoral disputes, support the legitimacy of the voting process, and, by extension, boost public confidence in Yemen’s democratic institutions.

TrueVoter™ is a unique biometric voting registration solution broken down into four components:

  1. Easy Capture – a highly configurable voter data capture solution for enrollment
  2. Voter Information Manager – this is the central application that manages all voter records
  3. ABIS matching – a fast matching search engine that delivers accurate and secure results
  4. ABIS de-duplication and adjudication – the fastest and most powerful de-duplication software in the world and powerful back end tool to help quickly and fairly resolve any election disputes

Furthermore, the TrueVoter™ system has the ability be easily configured to support the English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese languages, plus it provides the SCER with a comprehensive and secure system to register voters and de-duplicate biometric data within the database, providing a clean and accurate voter registry that prevents citizens from registering multiple times and voting under different aliases.

Take a look at our video covering the deployment:

We proudly support Yemen’s government in their proactive step to establish election legitimacy through the use of a biometric voter registration platform. We also hope that additional countries seeking to stem election fraud and establish more faith in democratically elected governments will also consider deploying biometric voter registration solutions!

New Video – M2-FuseID™ “Smart” Finger Reader

M2-FuseID is a multimodal biometrics fingerprint reader

The M2-FuseID™ “smart” multimodal finger reader simultaneously captures the fingerprint and finger vein patterns of an end user.

Late last year, we announced design completion of our latest innovation, the M2-FuseID™ “smart” finger reader – a next-generation fingerprint reader that delivers optimal security and reliability with advanced finger imaging and sophisticated liveness detection. Response thus far to our innovation has been overwhelming as we have already seen it deployed throughout the world in various capacities including:

– Healthcare for accurate patient identification

– Financial services for customer and employee identification

– Government services

Delivering the highest possible levels of security from a multimodal biometric reader hardware device, M2-FuseID™ simultaneously captures a high-quality 500 dpi fingerprint image and the unique finger vein pattern inside the finger thereby ensuring 100% enrollment rates through “smart” scanning technology. Plus, M2-FuseID™ offers:

  • High-level encrypted data transfer across the USB
  • LED display visual feedback to guide users through the enrollment and identification process
  • Ultra-precise, FBI-compliant 500 dpi fingerprint image resolution
  • Liveness detection technology to prevent spoofing

If you haven’t had the opportunity to lean more about this next-generation finger reader, we assembled a short video that explains the features, benefits, and ideal market environments for this device. Take a look:




Opportunities for Biometrics in the Developing World are Endless

biometrics for identification management improving identities in third world countries

Biometric identification management technology has tremendous potential to improve identity in third wold countries.

The following guest post was written by Justin Hughes. 

The advances in biometrics have the potential to support drastic improvements in developing nations, ranging from eliminating voter fraud in elections to ensuring vaccinations coverage or providing access to secure financial services. However, companies seeking to break into these new markets need to prove that their systems and technology can adapt to a different set of operating conditions than they’ve been used to. Those companies that can do this have an opportunity to lead the next generation of biometric deployments.

The last few years have seen some of the most ambitious biometrics projects in the developing world taking shape. Governments across Africa and Asia in particular have been capturing faces, fingerprints, irises and more from citizens and using this data to improve their service distribution, run elections and control their borders.

Perhaps the most ambitious public sector projects have been Indonesia’s E-KTP Project and India’s Aadhaar Project where hundreds of millions of enrolments have taken place across some of the most challenging conditions on earth, involving remote locations, multiple languages, huge variations in power and connectivity and a population often not used to high-technology.

In the humanitarian sector, two of the largest organizations in the humanitarian space have been using biometrics with great success. The World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have both successfully deployed biometrics in some of the most harsh and challenging environments on earth. The ability to provide recurring distributions of food or non-food aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan or Somalian refugees in Kenya has helped provide assistance, reduce duplicate ration issuance and secure identity for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

As system and hardware prices continue to come down and reliability continues to improve, the potential for biometrics to offer developing countries and humanitarian organizations numerous ways of managing identity with dispersed populations (and without the need for the expense of issuing security printed documents) is enormous. Applications in e-commerce and financial services are some of the most exciting opportunities – applications in healthcare, aid distribution and democracy are some of the most potentially worthwhile if they can help to secure identity for those that need it most.

And yet for every success story, there is another example of a failed implementation, a frustrated user and a disillusioned stakeholder. In April 2013, an article for The Spectator discussed “Africa’s Election Aid Fiasco”. The report lambasted the experiences of using biometrics in Kenya’s recent elections. “Biometric kits failed to recognize thumbs, forcing ID card numbers to be typed laboriously by hand. The classrooms routinely used as polling stations in Africa rarely come equipped with power sockets, so when the batteries used to power laptops loaded with the electronic poll book — another innovation — expired, they could not be recharged. As for electronic transmission, exhausted returning officers forgot identification numbers needed to access the system or found that their figures would not transmit. The main server had crashed, overwhelmed by the relatively minor amount of data it was being asked to process. No backup had been catered for.”

Unfortunately, these experiences are not isolated and reflect a mistake often made by implementing companies when trying to deploy solutions in the developing world. The things we take for granted in North America or Europe, such as stable power, internet and robust backup systems aren’t always available and neither is the ready availability of technicians and super-users. As someone at a major NGO commented recently “It is often not possible for us to adapt our infrastructure to work with a solution. Suppliers have to adapt their solutions to work with our infrastructure.”

Biometrics has the opportunity to offer governments, aid agencies and private companies a fast and reliable way of identifying individuals and providing access to a range of services. Solution providers and technologists need to ensure that in the rush to get to market, the failure by some to address the challenges of operating in developing countries doesn’t lead people to dismiss biometrics as a fad or an unworkable tool. The opportunities for biometrics in the developing world are enormous – let’s not waste them.

biometrics for identification management is ideal for developing countriesJustin Hughes is a procurement and supply chain expert for PA Consulting Group – spearheading PA’s work with the United Nations and NGO sector. For more information on PA, please visit

The Top 5 Reasons to Deploy Multimodal Biometrics

M2-FuseID is a multimosal biometric finger reader that simultaneously captures a fingerprint and finger vein pattern.

Many end users are now using multimodal biometric hardware devices for their deployments such as the M2-FuseID™ “smart” finger reader that combines fingerprint and finger vein pattern identification.

The following post was written by Ekhlas Uddin, Senior Executive in our Business Development & Interactive Marketing Department

Several years ago, if you questioned most identity management professionals whether they imagined the use of biometrics for individual identification management would turn out to become mainstream for authentication security, a majority would have said that the technology could be used in some areas, but only few could have forecasted the tremendous scale and scope of some larger deployments developing all over the world.

The reason behind adopting biometric technology is because traditional authentication tactics like the once thought to be ubiquitous password/username are insufficient for personal identity simply because they can only provide evidence of ownership or proof of knowledge whereas biometrics provides unique advantages as it relies on identifying someone by “who they are” compared to “what you know “or “what you have.”

For those who have adopted or are considering adopting biometrics for identification, the most recent pre-deployment question due in part to the evolution of the industry is whether to deploy a unimodal or multimodal biometric system. Multimodal biometric systems have become the best suited solution for any industry where high accuracy and security is required because they require two biometric credentials for positive identification instead of one in a unimodal system. Based on our own research, we have concluded that multimodal biometric systems have more advantages over unimodal biometric systems or traditional authentication systems.  We have done extensive research on this culminating in the release of our whitepaper available for download: The Necessity of Multimodal Biometric Systems for Large Scale Deployments.


Here are the top 5 reasons that organizations may consider deploying multimodal biometrics:

  1. Accuracy: Multimodal biometrics uses information from two or more biometrics – (e.g. fingerprint and finger vein pattern; or fingerprint and iris and voice) whereas unimodal biometric systems use information from one biometric – (e.g. fingerprint, iris, palm, signature, voice, hand shape, or face). The accuracy of a multimodal biometrics system is normally calculated in terms of image acquisition errors and matching errors. Image acquisition errors consist of failure-to-acquire (FTA) and failure-to-enroll (FTE) rate whereas matching errors comprise false non-match rates (FNMR) in which a legitimate person is rejected and a false match rate (FMR) where an impostor is granted access. Multimodal biometric systems have almost zero FTE, FMR & FTA rates because in this system, each and every subsystem has a viewpoint or a determination on the user’s claim. The examiner module utilizes various fusion strategies in order to combine each single subsystem decision or opinion and then come up with a conclusion. This is the reason that multimodal biometrics are more accurate than unimodal or any other authentication system.
  1. Increased and Reliable Recognition: A multimodal biometric system permits a greater level of assurance for an accurate match in verification as well as identification modes. As multimodal biometric systems utilize multiple biometric traits, each single trait can offer additional evidence about the authenticity of any identity claim. For example, the patterns of movements (gaits) of two individuals of the same family or coincidentally of two different persons can be similar. In this particular circumstance, a unimodal biometric system based only on gait pattern analysis might lead to a false recognition. If the same biometric system additionally includes fingerprint matching or finger vein matching, the system would certainly results in increased recognition rate, as it is nearly impossible that two different individuals have same gait as well as fingerprint/finger vein pattern.
  1. Enhanced Security: Another advantage of a multimodal biometric system is that by making use of multiple methods of identification, a system can preserve higher threshold recognition settings and a system administrator can make a decision on the level of security that is needed. For an extremely high security site/area, you might need to use up to three biometric identifiers and for a lower security site/area, you could possibly require one or two credentials. If one of the identifiers fails for any unknown reason, your system can still utilize another one or two of them in order to provide the accurate identification of a person. In this way, it significantly reduces the probability of admitting an imposter. 
  1. Vulnerability: Spoofing is the biggest threat to authentication systems. Multimodal as well as unimodal biometric systems are sometimes vulnerable to spoofing. Spoofing happens whenever an unauthorized person has the capacity to masquerade as an authorized user.The potential threats due to fake or artificial fingers were evaluated by another research team and the experiment exhibited that artificial fingers cloned with plastic molds could possibly enroll in the 11 tested fingerprint systems and were being accepted in the verification procedures with the probability of 68-100%, depending on the system. In this scenario, alternative hardware devices that rely on simultaneous multimodal authentication such as a biometric smart fingerprint/finger vein reader with liveness detection can eliminate spoofing. “Liveness” describes the capability of a multimodal biometric system to distinguish between a living and a fake sample and is generally done by measuring biometric features like humidity, pulse, blood flow, temperature, etc. 
  1. User Acceptance: As multimodal biometric systems are more accurate, reliable, have larger security options, and have the ability to avoid spoofing attacks, these systems are more widely accepted in many countries that cover large to larger deployments. Biometric deployments that encompass large scale population databases are turning to multimodal systems. However, in deployments where security and accuracy are paramount, no matter how small, multimodal systems have become ubiquitous.


The inadequate accuracy and reliability of traditional authentication and unimodal biometric systems has lead many end users to utilize multimodal biometric systems in order to provide the maximum level of accurate authentication. One thing we need to mention here is that privacy is a vital aspect of any multimodal biometric system deployment. The design of the multimodal biometric system must ensure that it does not threaten personal or informational privacy. Personal information should be collected only under specific conditions and for specific reasons and only be used for the purpose it was collected.

Multimodal biometric systems are a must in those industries where the ultimate security and accuracy is required, and where a simple mistake can lead death to many civilians or can cause great havoc to their normal life. A multimodal biometric system is best suited for industries such as healthcare, civil ID (eID/national ID), and Financial industries. Many developed countries like United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada already deployed multimodal biometric system for voter registration, national id, national healthcare or ePassport projects. Developing and under developed countries are also taking the lead from developed countries and deploying multimodal biometric systems.

What other authentication systems do you think are superior to a multimodal biometrics system? Please share your thoughts through the comments.