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What are challenges and requirements of using mobile biometric devices

What are challenges and requirements of using mobile biometric devices
When it comes to requirements for mobile biometric devices utilized in the border and law enforcement markets, the most obvious ones revolve around the certification to the established national or international standards and those established by the provider of the matching database.

“This ensures that records going into the database can be processed with records being matched to the database in the future and that there are certain thresholds met regarding capture and image quality. After all, the results of these identity matches in a law enforcement and border application can carry significant consequences,” John Hinmon, VP for Global Marketing of Crossmatch, explained. Some of the standards biometric devices must adhere to include the FBI NGI Appendix F Image Quality Standards, NIST Mobile Best Practices and ANSI/NIST.

Since border control and law enforcement are mission critical, the devices must also be more robust than similar devices used in more commercial applications. The extreme work environments require devices that are impervious to water and dust and durable, designed with multiple shifts in mind.

Size, weight, ease of use and communication modules (e.g., 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, etc.) are also critical factors to consider. “By definition, mobile handheld devices need to be small, easily transportable and battery-powered. Agents and officers do not want to be burdened with heavy, bulky devices,” Hinmon said.

Furthermore, the quality and reliability of the fingerprint sensor is highly important. New technologies like capacitive thin-film transistor sensors (a.k.a., capacitive TFT) are enabling fingerprint capture on thinner and smaller readers. As this technology is unaffected by ambient light and direct sunlight, it is ideal for use in the border and law enforcement markets.

Challenges in deployment

From price to privacy, the use of mobile biometric authentication devices in border and law enforcement comes with many challenges.

Jacky Lecuivre, CEO of Coppernic, explained that one of the main challenges in using mobile biometric authentication devices in these verticals/applications is the reluctance related to privacy. “Some people still think/say/write that a fingerprint is part of the private patrimony of each individual, even if he is a potential terrorist. Fortunately, this kind of reluctance diminishes with the increasing problems of terrorism and public security we are facing at the moment.”

Another challenge is the need for fast and secure transfer of data. “It requires the consistent expansion of high-speed mobile networks and secure encryption of the data to be transmitted. Only with the wireless connection to a central database is the use of portable biometric devices a real alternative to stationary solutions,” Gunther Mull, CEO of Dermalog, said.

Ensuring device compliance to project requirements, the infrastructure and verticals/applications already deployed is another challenge. “Most countries have different ID documents, different biometric rules and a different approach for border control and identity verification,” Rémi Guidet, Marketing Director for Identification Solutions at Gemalto, said. “The challenge is to have a mobile biometric solution that is able to be customized easily to answer all projects.”

Hinmon added that any mobile technology solution deployment should take into consideration a risk analysis of the use case and the trade-offs between fixed and mobile system performance. “In some cases, fixed infrastructure has performance, operational and budgetary advantages (e.g., full criminal enrollment processing or high volume primary border control screening at an airport).”

An increasingly mobile future

Advancements in biometric technologies and mainstream adoption of biometrics will continue to drive public acceptance of the use of such technologies by law enforcement and border control. Improvements in battery technology and camera sensor technology will also help benefit the future development of mobile biometric devices, particularly for face recognition algorithms.

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