An increasingly digital society requires governments to prioritize the use of biometrics when facilitating common services. This includes digital identity programs, which use tools like face recognition to provide increased security and convenience in daily life. Such biometric tools can be a force for good, so long as they follow a security-centered roadmap defined by authentication, accessibility, interoperability, and data protection. Forward-thinking government agencies looking toward a digital transformation should consider these key factors as they make the change.
A national framework encompassing these four pillars is needed to ensure systems are secure, accurate, and accessible NEC’s Digital Identity Platform is built according to these same standards. It is highly accurate, prioritizes privacy and is trusted by numerous government agencies.
Learn more from Eugene le Roux, Vice President of Digital Government, about why NEC Advanced Recognition Systems is advocating for a federal framework to ensure that independent systems meet interoperability and privacy standards in the first edition of thought-provoking blogs titled, “Government’s Role in the Growing Digital ID Market.” Or you can contact NEC to visualize your Digital ID solution and begin your journey toward transformation.
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Fans of investigative TV shows may feel like they’re up on the latest technologies about forensic evidence and crime scene processing, but the real pros were at the International Association for Identification (IAI) Conference.
The 106th IAI Conference was held July 31 – August 6, 2022, at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. As the world’s largest organized industry event, the conference featured cutting-edge forensics and biometric technology for law enforcement, state and local government and other agencies focused on public safety.
Transforming Public Safety and Security with Identification Technologies
We were honored to be a leading sponsor at the IAI Conference, including a booth that was front and center of the exhibition hall. Our theme, “Identity Reimagined,” spotlighted NEC’s Digital Platform and the latest advancements to revolutionize law enforcement investigations.
Knowing the law enforcement and biometric community wants hands-on demos, each section of our booth was highly interactive and educational, featuring:
Integrated Biometric Workstation (IBW) – Designed for ease of use, NEC’s IBW can be operated with a tablet, enabling forensic examiners to identify more offenders faster, for more efficient, effective crime solving.
SmartScan™ Station – A sleek, scalable, secure and easy to manage fingerprint, palm print, facial and iris livescan kiosk.
RapidHit – Simple, single sample real-time rapid DNA analyzer allows collection and processing of arrestee cheek swab or evidence sample in 90 minutes.
NeoFace® Reveal – Face recognition platform that reliably captures, enhances, organizes and matches video and graphic images to specific individuals.
Mobile WAY – A unified cloud platform for rapid search of federal, state and local law enforcement biometric database. The subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) model makes Mobile WAY cost-effective for any size agency.
Protecting the Public with Biometric Technology
With more than 1,000 biometric authentication systems in approximately 70 countries and regions around the world, NEC is a trusted partner that state and local government can rely on to help protect communities and ensure public safety.
In fact, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) matching algorithm recognition benchmarks have consistently proven that NEC’s biometric technologies have the fastest and most accurate face and fingerprint recognition algorithm. NIST also recognizes NEC with the most resilient facial recognition technologies for viewing low angles, low resolution images and poor image quality.
We were excited to share successes and best practices at the IAI Conference and look forward to next year’s event!
Star Alliance Biometricslaunched last month, giving loyalty customers of the world’s largest global airline alliance a quicker, cleaner path through airports in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany. Lufthansa and SWISS International are the first airlines to implement Star Alliance Biometrics. In time, Star Alliance plans to make the service available to all 26 of its member airlines. NEC is proud to be the technology partner powering the new service with the NEC I:Delight identity platform software.
Star Alliance has a strong reputation for innovation in the airline industry. Upholding its commitment to listen to customer expectations and elevate the customer experience with cutting-edge solutions, Star Alliance decided two years ago to leverage NEC’s biometric and identity management platform to accelerate airport processes and alleviate bottlenecks.
That forward-thinking objective positioned Star Alliance as a problem-solving leader during the current pandemic, to use contactless biometrics to create hygienic, touchless checkpoints. Travelers who opt-in to use the Star Alliance Biometrics service simply check-in at each kiosk with a selfie rather than handling physical documents face-to-face with airport personnel.
As Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh recently stated in a joint press release with Lufthansa Group, “Biometrics solutions are important as we move forward for the industry and for airports. First and foremost, it will offer a seamless customer experience. Second, it will offer the hygiene safety experience that customers are expecting coming out of the coronavirus crisis. But importantly, for many, many airports, infrastructural constraints have been a problem. And biometrics solutions will take away those infrastructural concerns.”
Register once, use often
As the Star Alliance Biometrics service expands over time, it will be interoperable among participating airlines and airports. As Alliance members adopt the technology and as air travel rebounds for the “next normal,” customers will be able to move seamlessly across the growing global network with a single secure digital ID.
Loyalty program members may opt-in using an app to scan their passports and snap a selfie. NEC technology validates the authenticity of the passport and the traveler’s biometrics to prevent spoofing or identity theft. NEC I:Delight is developed with privacy in mind, and this commitment to customer security and privacy was a key factor in Star Alliance’s decision to develop its platform with NEC.
Participants control their digital ID by selecting the partners who may access it. At the airport, authentication is intuitive in any language: Passengers face an integrated camera in a kiosk at the security zone and boarding gate. In the blink of an eye, the identity platform checks passengers against the saved flight manifest data, quickly producing a prompt for the traveler to continue through the checkpoint or to check-in with security or an airline agent.
The NEC I:Delight platform’s capabilities can also be extended to assist with Wayfinding in airports and enable Face Pay for purchases at duty free stores. Face Pay uses the same NEC protections for secure access to a participant’s account. Beyond the airport, the entire travel ecosystem can be enhanced with I:Delight by implementing face recognition in hospitality, retail, entertainment, car rental and other transportation.
Biometrics in the face of COVID
Face coverings create a challenge for many face recognition algorithms. Some masks cover more than half of a face, and this pandemic has seen a surge of new face mask styles, textures and patterns. NEC continually invests in improving its biometric algorithm – already the industry’s fastest and most accurate – and NEC has risen to the challenge.
The NEC face matching algorithm has proven its accuracy even with a face mask. Identity verification can occur in as little as 1.5 seconds –much faster and more accurate than human analysis with the face mask lowered.
NEC’s commitment to innovation over its long history and our consistent top ratings across biometric solutions led Star Alliance to choose NEC as the technology partner for its biometrics platform. CEO Jeffrey Goh says Star Alliance wanted a reliable partner that could give airline members confidence that they will continue to have secure and forward-thinking solutions that support the alliance’s reputation as a technology leader.
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When airport checkpoints move smoothly, travelers have more time to shop, dine and relax before their flight. NEC’s biometric facial recognition technology is the quickest and simplest way to authenticate a passenger’s identity, letting them fast-track through every process from bag check to boarding.
NEC has developed a unique partnership with SITA, a global provider of IT and communication infrastructure for 80% of the world’s airports. NEC’s Advanced Identity Matcher – Edge Source (AIM-ES) technology uses the most accurate face matching algorithms as validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with our NeoFace® algorithm, to deliver an all-in-one solution capable of creating recognition galleries and templates as well as providing identity matching and scoring. It easily integrates with the SITA Smart Path whole-journey identity management solution, which creates a specialized application for airport travelers.
Using the application, travelers can choose to use their digital identity for paperless boarding passes. A simple facial scan validates their identity at check-in and continues to authenticate passengers throughout the airport experience.
Implemented fully, a traveler can enable facial recognition in NEC’s I:Delight identity management platform to approve purchases in airport shops, on airlines, for hotels and transportation. Because it uses an individual’s unique ID, it is more secure than other online money transfer services.
No explanation required—in any language
Facial recognition is intuitive and transcends language barriers: Everyone knows how to take a selfie, so it’s natural to look at a screen for a snapshot. The results are also extremely quick. The photo hits the cloud, finds a match, then flashes a red light or green light—a universal signal for a person to stop or go ahead.
By comparison, other forms of biometric identification require the individual be at an exact distance and use a precise gesture—both of which involve an explanation and require more time. In addition, face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic raise a new challenge, but NEC’s NeoFace biometric algorithms gather enough data from the visible part of the face to verify a traveler in the database.
Travelers simply opt-in to the platform to access the application. If they want touchless fast-tracking, they download an app to their phone, save an image of their face on the day of travel, and their image and secure travel documents are linked in a database for travel checkpoints. Travelers maintain self-sovereign identity, meaning each traveler selects who they will share their information with, such as an airline, hotel or retail service.
Customized for airlines, compliant with security
The partnership also streamlines adoption of the technology for airlines and airports. SITA Flex enables airports and airlines to build their own mobile applications for passengers, and NEC’s digital identity management software enables developers to overlay their interface with the NEC I:Delight platform.
Biometric verification can also be used for security and customs checkpoints. Each country has distinct requirements for security screening, and SITA has both the relationships and the extensive local workforce to customize our platform for compliance and scale at each location. All systems adhere to country and local policies, and NEC is completely transparent about how data is used. For example, data for international travelers in the U.S. is stored for six hours, then expunged.
Delta Air Lines is already using the NEC facial recognition platform in Atlanta to fast-track passengers. The hygienic, touchless system is ideal during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Delta will expand this streamlined process to other U.S. airport hubs.
Internationally, NEC and SITA have a project in Thailand, at multiple airports in India, and Star Alliance is rolling out NEC I:Delight in Europe. Star Alliance plans to enable travelers to use their travel reward points system as a purchasing method—in flight as well as at the airport, hotel and transportation.
The NEC-SITA partnership creates an opportunity to scale NEC biometrics technology to more than 460 airports running on SITA’s infrastructure around the world.
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People who know me will tell you that I’m an enthusiastic and optimistic person. It’s hard to get me down. If you see me at an industry event or tradeshow, I’m usually pumped up about something.
But even for me, this year’s Federal Identity Forum & Exposition (FedID 17), held September 12-14 in Washington, D.C., genuinely got me more excited for our industry than I’ve been in several years.
Formerly known as the Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC) and the Global Identity Summit (GIS) , the newly branded FedID is the U.S. federal government’s primary outreach and collaboration-building event with the worldwide identity community. The event has evolved over the years through a post-9/11 biometric boom to a slowdown in deployments, and now to a time when our industry is once again seeing a greater push toward mass adoption of identity matching technology.
NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments. We spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including fingerprint, face recognition, video surveillance and analysis, multimodal biometric enrollment, mobile fingerprint and forensic analysis. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.
This brings me to a list of favorites I’m calling the “six huge take-aways from FedID 17.” Here we go.
Face is the Future – Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. Express is currently being tested at major airports by U.S. Customers and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program. Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can get a better picture of how many non-Americans are overstaying their travel visas.Conversations I had with people who saw the demo agreed that face recognition, when executed with a high degree of accuracy and precision, is the security technology of the immediate future. It’s fast and frictionless, it’s accurate, and it can help increase efficiency in airports where we all agree that faster queuing times are a good thing. That makes me excited.
Apple’s Face ID is a Victory for the Identity Industry – Apple’s big fall product launch event coincided with the first day of FedID 17, and as I said in my panel talk that same day, I think the Apple iPhone X Face ID feature is going to be great for our industry. Assuming the technology typically works as well as it did the second time Apple’s Phil Schiller attempted to demo the feature, and I assume it will, people will ultimately adopt face recognition as a lawful and acceptable security form. As my friend Peter O’Neill at FindBiometrics pointed out, our industry saw a huge push in fingerprint ID acceptance when the Touch ID scanner was introduced on the iPhone 5S. Expect iPhone X to do the same for face.
Robust Testing is Critical – In most of the conversations I had about face recognition at FedID, there typically came a time when someone said of face recognition, “Yes, I agree, but it’s got to work.” It seems like an obvious statement, but those of us in the industry can all agree that achieving a high degree of accuracy and performance for a face recognition algorithm takes a lot of hard work, investment, and patience. Federal officials require that any technology they use for biometric identity is accurate and responsive enough to return a match in less than 2 seconds, often times milliseconds. Lucky for NEC, our NeoFace algorithm is the consistent top performer in performance testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Humans Are Important – Perhaps this is another obvious statement, but there are actually two ways that human intervention is absolutely integral to the success of any identity matching technology. After all, we are talking about protecting people’s personal freedoms at multiple levels here.For starters, face recognition and today’s more advanced identity matching algorithms are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they must be taught how to identify people in a wide array of conditions. That means we (the humans) have to teach it (the technology) about adverse lighting conditions, a wide diversity in facial features, shades, anomalies and shapes, odd capture angles, and many other factors, in order to achieve a higher degree of matching accuracy. We know this from more than 40 years of experience in developing identity matching technology.
Secondly, any biometric technology, whether it’s fingerprint, iris or face recognition, will never be 100 percent accurate all of the time. Having a living, breathing, well-trained human being present to handle exceptions and errors in any automated identity matching process is critical to the long-term success of biometric technology. Just as fingerprinting has been around for more than 100 years in law enforcement, responsible and ethical use by humans will be key for biometric identity matching to be around for the next 100.
Federal Officials are Moving Ahead – Obviously the world is not yet fully on-board with using biometric identity matching at every major checkpoint or public event, but it’s clear to me that the federal government is headed toward mass adoption at multiple levels. From the CBP Biometric Exit pilots to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of handheld fingerprint scanners and beyond, we haven’t seen the last of biometrics being deployed in our daily lives.
Privacy is Important – It’s hard to talk about identity without addressing privacy in the same breath, and that was certainly the case in most of my conversations at FedID. People generally have concerns about privacy, specifically how long the government can retain biometric data for U.S. citizens and who will have access to your biometric data. Those conversations are playing out at the federal policy level as we speak. Every indication I’m seeing is that the policy discussions will not change the fact that face recognition is an extremely secure and convenient way to verify a person’s identity. Every face is different, and with the latest advances it has become very hard to fool the technology. No security or authentication technology is 100-percent perfect, but with great technology and the hard work of diligent humans, our face recognition comes pretty darn close.
It’s an exciting time to be in our industry. I look forward to continuing the healthy dialog and debate as we get closer to mass adoption within the federal government.
Free White Paper The Power of Identity
Facial recognition technology has matured rapidly and provides game-changing solutions to today’s identification challenges. To learn more, fill out the form to download the white paper.