Center researchers work on international biometrics standards

Definition: Biometrics

Biometrics is the automated recognition of individuals based on their behavioral and biological characteristics (e.g. face, finger, iris images). Verification of claimed identity can be based upon what you know (e.g. a password), what you have (e.g. a passport) or what you are (e.g. a fingerprint). Biometrics is also a key technology for identifying an individual from among tens of millions in a database (e.g. criminal records).

The world's biometrics experts, during a week-long standards meeting at Purdue University July 7-11, are discussing the prevention of spoofing of biometrics markers (such as fingerprints or iris images) and improving the biometric capabilities of video surveillance, among other biometric standards.

The discussions are part of the semi-annual meeting of the biometrics subcommittee of the international standards group called ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 (International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission Joint Technical Committee 1, Subcommittee 37). The 65 participants from 12 countries are offering their expertise to six SC 37 working groups on topics ranging from harmonized biometric vocabulary to biometric testing to data interchange formats.

Kevin O'Connor, managing director of the International Center for Biometric Research (ICBR) at Purdue, organized the meeting and is one of the members of the biometrics committee.

O'Connor, Stephen Elliott, Ph.D., and a team of student researchers are hosting the meeting. Elliott, a professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation, has been involved with the subcommittee and its working groups since their creation in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attack.

The subcommittee and its working groups are charged with creating standards of generic biometric technologies to support interoperability and data interchange across platforms and around the world.

"We are continuing to enhance many of our standards while responding to new challenges this week," said Mike Hogan of the Information Technology Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratory (NIST). "The successful development and deployment of many of these standards into commercial and government systems has been truly pioneering. This includes groundbreaking international biometric standards for iris data interchange format; image quality for face, iris and fingerprint; and performance testing. The newest challenges include the JTC 1/SC 37 projects for anti-spoofing and the use of biometrics in video surveillance systems."

Since its inception, JTC 1/SC37 has published 94 standards. As technology improves and changes, the subcommittee works on new standards to address identity management applications.

In addition to O’Connor and Elliott, many graduate and undergraduate students at Purdue have been active at international and national standards meetings. The networking available at the gatherings has been beneficial for both students and the experts.

"Many of the committee members have served as mentors to undergraduate and graduate students," said Lisa Rajchel, senior director for international standards programs at American National Standards Institute and SC 37 Secretariat.

The committee also has access to research conducted by Elliott and the students as part of the ICBR. Their findings on how certain technologies work and how people interact with the technology can help the JTC 1/SC 37 working groups formulate better standards.

JCT 1/SC 37 will meet again in six months to continue their discussions. This week’s ANSI-hosted meeting was sponsored by the ICBR, NIST and Crossmatch.

More information: JCT1/SC37 on Wikipedia.


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