Beyond Facial Recognition: Growing Applications of Biometrics in Government

Biometrics are more than facial recognition. Biometrics include all types of biological markers that can be used for identification. Fingerprints pre-date the use of facial recognition and today the practice continues to evolve to use other biological data for a wide variety of use cases.

Tapping into wearable data for first responder safety

The Department of Homeland Security recently funded several startups that have developed innovative monitoring technologies that can be used to protect the health, safety and mental well being of police officers, firefighters, and other emergency responders. These solutions include:

  • A biometric armband that uses sensor technology to track heart rate, temperature, exertion and detect falls. Data can be viewed via an online platform or mobile app and it can issue alerts when unsafe conditions are detected.
  • A wearable device that applies predictive machine-learning models to health monitoring data that alerts managers to unsafe conditions to prevent heat-related injury and illness.
  • A mask and headphones that produce pulses of light and sound that relax users. The aim is to enhance relaxation and recovery in individuals.
  • An app that uses AI to design personalized training for police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. The app tracks users' progress and predicts suitable workouts for future sessions to keep personnel in ideal physical and mental shape.

Regulating cryptocurrency

A recent congressional hearing featured conversation around how digital passports could help in regulating the use of cryptocurrency, making it harder to use digital currency in ransomware and other crimes. Building on the work of REAL ID, a standard the federal government has put in place for accepting state-issued identification, there is discussion of how to add in biometric identifiers as part of online and offline identification.

Meeting multi-factor authentication mandates

An early requirement laid out in the Cyber EO is the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA) across government. MFA has the potential to remove the need for passwords, instead using a combination of access cards, biometric identifiers, and second device contacts.

Advancing policing and intelligence practices

Congressional leaders are looking to the law enforcement community for ideas on how to use biometrics in the investigation of terrorism, gun violence, and police brutality. The question was raised as to how biometric data could change the way these crimes are investigated and how biometric data could be used in combination with AI.

To gather this type of data, police forces will need different tools than they use today. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence's research and development arm is working to develop biometrics capable of identifying people's entire bodies from high above and long range. The hope is that software can be developed to identify people from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) even in turbulence.

As the use of biometrics continues to evolve you can stay up to date with resources on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

  • 2023 Information Security and Innovation Forum (February 28, 2023; virtual) - This event gathers leading voices from government and industry to talk about the current threat landscape, how organizations can improve their information security, and what industry can do to help federal agencies achieve their most important and challenging security missions.
  • Emerging & Disruptive Technology for Defense (March 21-22, 2023; Washington, DC) - This event will take a deep dive into modernization priorities and cutting-edge technologies which will enable JADC2 architecture, advance digitization, and help maintain our information advantage.
  • Gartner Identity and Access Management Summit (March 20-22, 2023; Grapevine, TX) - This summit aims to help IAM and security leaders make the right decisions about which identity-first security initiatives to prioritize, how to modernize existing staffing models and whether to invest in new tools to take their organization's security posture into the identity-first era.
  • Stanford HAI Artificial Intelligence Bill of Rights (white paper) - Supporting the work of the White House Office of Science and Technology to develop an AI Bill of Rights that safeguards the American public against powerful technologies, Stanford HAI recommends six principles to guide the public and private uses of biometric and broader artificial intelligence technologies.
  • A Blueprint for Equity and Inclusion in Artificial Intelligence (white paper) - This report paints a comprehensive picture of challenges and opportunities for improvements in equity and inclusion across the AI development life cycle and governance ecosystem - tying together issues such as hiring, culture change, impact assessments and more.

For more information on biometrics in government, explore the resources on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

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