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GCN : March and April 2016
[BrieFing] When soldiers in war zones need to verify the identities of the people they meet, they compare an individual’s biometric features against those in a range of databases. The faster that data can be searched and processed, the better. The Defense Department renewed its contract with MorphoTrust USA for the company’s ABIS software late last year, and the platform now includes upgraded algorithms that improve speed and accuracy. ABIS verifies identities with a search engine that registers and compares biometric fea- tures against data on file. It also helps the military update watch lists on the fly. For instance, if warfighters encounter a bad actor on a raid, they can take the person’s photo or fingerprints. “And if there was a match, [that individual] could be added to the watch list,” said Benji Hutchin- son, senior director of federal programs at MorphoTrust. “That watch list would then be shared within the parameters of certain policies with other federal agen- cies so that if that individual were to be released or try to board an airplane or try to gain entry into the United States, they would then be flagged.” The Army uses handheld data collec- tion devices or laptops outfitted with fingerprint scanners and/or cameras to capture face, fingerprint, iris and palm scans. The devices have a graphical user interface with icons of an eyeball, fingerprint and face rather than a lot of text to “make it easier for both the soldier and for the person being enrolled,” Hutchinson said. After taking the scan or picture, sol- diers enter information such as name and date of birth. The resulting data file is transmitted to a facility in the U.S . for processing, he added. The system checks for a match and sends the soldier the results: a red X for no match or a green check for a match. If the result is inconclusive, a biometrics expert is called in to do further evaluation. MorphoTrust does not store any of the data in its system; all the informa- tion goes to DOD’s data center. And when soldiers don’t have connectivity, they can compare the information to locally hosted watch lists. “In other cases where the discon- nected collection devices do not have a locally stored watch list, once those devices regain connectivity, they sync or upload their new data to the larger database,” Hutchinson said. • Identity search engine speeds biometric checks in war zones BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ WESTCARROLLTON.ORG/#/CITY/ANSWERS 6 GCN MARCH/APRIL 2016 • GCN.COM FLICKR.COM/SOLDIERSMEDIACENTER A U.S. soldier gathers biometric data on military-aged men in Afghanistan to verify identities and compare against watch lists. 0416gcn_006-008.indd 6 3/3/16 9:47 AM
January and February 2016