The Nationwide Network Working to Bring Mobile Biometrics to Your Community (part #3)

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As a network security professional I encourage you to read this article completely. The information is very important and denotes how fast and well we are moving into a reality that we see in Hollywood motion pictures but now is here to stay to keep us safe and on check.

Introducing Mobile Biometrics

The creation of the FirstNet network is primarily intended to enable communication between first responder entities including police, medical response, and firefighters. The system is intended to facilitate interoperable communication during disasters, mass casualty events and other catastrophic situations that could threaten traditional communications systems, such as the land mobile radio (LMR) systems currently used by emergency services.

However, the broadband capabilities of the FirstNet network, based on the 4G LTE standard but moving rapidly into 5G Speed, enable entirely new applications of wireless technology for law enforcement. The high bandwidth network’s powerful capabilities enabling large file transfers and remote database access are already being explored by a number of companies seeking to create the next generation of law enforcement technology.

One of the primary focus areas materials for FirstNet explicitly list the use of facial recognition technology and other biometric identification techniques as part of the “vision” and “promise” of the national network they are building. FirstNet lists the use of “specialized applications that allow police to quickly identify criminal suspects and accident victims through technologies such as facial recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint identification” on the first page of its recruitment prospectus for companies seeking to exploit FirstNet’s capabilities is mobile biometrics. (On the fly).

Until now, biometric identification using fingerprints or iris scans has remained a tool limited to the context of active war zones or high-security government facilities. FirstNet’s broadband network is set to change this by enabling police around the country to use mobile biometric devices to scan the fingerprints of suspects, scan their irises or even match their face against a central database of criminal mug shots Promotional .

A presentation slide describing potential future applications of FirstNet’s nationwide broadband network.

With the advent of the distributed data network created by FirstNet, law enforcement throughout the U.S. will soon have access to the same capabilities currently used in Afghanistan to track and monitor the population. A study released in June 2013 by Sandia National Laboratories and co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) sponsored a series of “pilot projects” to obtain information and feedback from the “first responder law enforcement community on further identification of requirements for mobile biometric device technology.”

The study involved 62 jurisdictions around the country with many testing the very same devices currently used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, such as the SEEK II made by Cross Match Technologies and the HIIDE 5 made by Morpho-Trust. According to the study’s conclusions, mobile biometric devices (MBDs) are currently used only in a limited number of jurisdictions in the U.S. that rely on “intermediate communication links and Wi-Fi proximity to either Blackberries or patrol car mobile data terminals.”

FirstNet’s capabilities would expand this reach to enable any police department in the country to implement or expand the use of MBDs, something the study says many departments want to do. This includes “technologies for subject/suspect/detainee enrollment in the field” which is currently of “definite interest” to a number of law enforcement and first responder stakeholders who “have also identified a need for a truly integrated MBD that uses fingerprint, facial recognition, iris recognition, and voice recognition technologies.”

 

John F. Bisner

Ing. & Analyst

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The Nationwide Network Working to Bring Mobile Biometrics to Your Community (part #5)

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As a network security professional I encourage you to read this article completely. The information is very important and denotes how fast and well we are moving into a reality that we see in Hollywood motion pictures but now is here to stay to keep us safe and on check.

Local Interest in Mobile Biometrics

Though adoption of many of the advanced technologies made possible by FirstNet’s broadband network will ultimately remain up to local municipalities, several local jurisdictions have already expressed interest in mobile biometrics and other applications.

At a meeting in August, the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Systems Authority (BayRICS), a joint powers authority of 12 counties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, used a slide from FirstNet describing facial recognition, field fingerprinting and automated license plate reading as part of the “promise of broadband” coming soon to the area.

Likewise, an Oregon Statewide Interoperability Coordination technical report issued in December 2012 titled “Planning for FirstNet” discusses introducing a number of “labor saving applications incorporating license plate recognition, scanning of driver licenses, facial recognition, and other advanced technologies” once the FirstNet broadband network is operational.

A section of the report listing public safety broadband applications includes remote access to database including “mug shots, finger prints, reporting, NCIC, criminal history, hot files” as well as “video surveillance, remote monitoring” and “automated license plate recognition.”  A press release issued in February by the Texas Department of Public Safety titled “FirstNet Ready to Boost Texas Public Safety” states that the network will not only “give emergency responders a common and instant connection, it will allow them to share information through automatic license plate readers, facial recognition systems, field fingerprint analysis processers and much more.”

The National Association of Counties even issued a policy brief in June2013 advising counties that it is “imperative” that they “engage in the consultation process and actively seek out the designated state coordinator” to take advantage of the more than “$7billion of spectrum auction proceeds and valuable spectrum bandwidth toward deployment of the nationwide network” as well as $135 million allocated by Congress for a new “State and Local Implementation Grant-Program administered by NTIA to support State, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions’ planning work with FirstNet.”

The network is described in the brief as working to provide a “secure and interoperable network” that will “also support cutting-edge applications – for example, enabling firefighters to download blueprints of burning buildings in order to plan their entry route, allowing emergency medical technicians to remotely access a victim’s medical records from an ambulance, or helping police to identify criminal suspects through facial recognition or iris scanning technologies.” A video from Alcatel-Lucent demonstrating mobile facial recognition technology that would be used with the FirstNet network.  December 18, 2013 – Big Brother is WATCHING.

*** This technology is already being used world wide. Costa Rica is also implementing such systems.


John F. Bisner

Ing. & Analyst