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 (part4) 

Leave a comment

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.

The Future of Crime Fighting

While still years away, the promise of advanced law enforcement technologies made possible by FirstNet’s broadband network has driven a number of companies to begin capitalizing on what they hope will someday be a lucrative market.  At the 2013 International Wireless Communications Expo, Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated mobile-biometric technologies for facial recognition that would rely on FirstNet’s broadband network.

Through the company’s nG-ConnectPublic Safety Program, Alcatel-Lucent is building a coalition of companies that focus in facial recognition, location tracking using GPS and other law enforcement technologies facilitated by the “commercial deployment of an all IP Network (4G LTE) with high bandwidth and low latency” known as FirstNet.

Touting the U.S. government’s allocation of $7 billion for the construction of FirstNet, an infographic created by Alcatel-Lucent proudly displays the estimated annual value of the U.S. homeland security and public safety market at over $100 billion by 2020.

The nG Connect Public Safety Program combines the expertise of several companies to redefine the “art of the possible” by building applications that help law enforcement to incorporate “award winning tracking solutions for fleet management and leading edge law enforcement surveillance and covert operations capabilities” as well as “proprietary recognition engines for analysis of video streams to identify ‘people of interest’ by biometric and personal characteristics.” A short video from EclipseIR, part of Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect Public Safety program working to create applications that would leverage FirstNet’s high-bandwidth data transfer capabilities.
Mutualink, another company working to leverage FirstNet’s capabilities, is taking the concept of mobile biometrics one step further with its Google Glass for Public Safety.  “Robocop may not be real, but his efficiency is something worth aspiring to,” begins an article about the product published in Government Technology. The technology will integrate with the Google-Glass heads up display to allow users to “look to the right in their peripheral vision and view information that is being served to them, like maps, blueprints, surveillance video feeds, or other documents.”

According to Mutualink’s Senior Vice President Joe Mazzarella, the technology could be “very useful for first responders and soldiers alike.”  An article in the law enforcement publication PoliceOne.com provides examples of potential applications for the Google Glass for Public Safety, suggesting an “officer interviewing a suspected gang member could run the suspect’s image through a facial recognition database of known gangsters, or pull up a photo record of a tattoo to compare against one on the person in front of them.”  During a search of a building, officers could “see their own location and those of everyone else involved in the effort on a stored floor plan of the structure” or, as a Mutualink press release states, they could “watch video feed from school security cameras in real-time during an active shooter scenario.”

A presentation from the acting Chief Technology Officer of FirstNet Craig Farrill at a regional workshop in May 2013 indicates that First Netintends to foster a “vibrant developer community contributing useful apps for first responders.”  These applications would be vetted by FirstNet prior to being offered for download to devices on the broadband network, something like an iTunes for law enforcement and first responders.

Similar plans were discussed in a prospectus issued by the Major Cities Chiefs’ Association in 2012 which called for the creation of a “secure, socially driven interface” resembling Facebook to enablestate and local intelligence and counterterrorism personnel to effectively network,”allowing “a detective in Las Vegas.. . to securely customize a profile page, build a network of ‘friends’ who are in fact colleagues in other agencies, andnetwork by sharing non-sensitive information through wall posts, messages, and status updates . . .”

In June, Bill Bratton, who has headed police departments in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, announced the creation of BlueLine, described as a “Facebook for cops” that is “geared toward collaboration on policing issues like gangs or drugs and product and technology advances.”  The network will reportedly be funded through law enforcement product sales including everything from “from socks to Glocks” according to the project’s Chief Strategy Officer Jack Weiss.

*** BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING EVERY WHERE….
John F. Bisner
Ing. & Analyst