A new software suite developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will let local and federal users to share biometric information more easily and accurately by checking it against the agency’s 2011 biometric standard.
The software test suite, said NIST, allows users of the agency’s revised biometric standard to gain higher confidence that the correct biometric information can be shared across between agencies.
The Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT Program helped support the software development, said NIST. The US-VISIT program is DHS’ immigration and border management system that collects and analyzes biometric data (such as fingerprints). That data is checked against a terrorist/criminal/illegal immigrant watch list database. US-VISIT is accessed by users from federal, state, and local government agencies.
Biometric Conformance Test Software for Data Interchange Formats (BioCTS2012) includes a test suite designed to test implementations of the biometrics data standard ANSI/NIST-ITL 1-2011 (Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprint, Facial & Other Biometric Information).
Published in November 2011, NIST said the standard provides a defined method for digitally encoding and storing biometric data so it can be shared by the various ID systems used by law enforcement, military and homeland security agencies. The standard, it said, “vastly expands the type and amount of information that forensic scientists can share and is being adopted around the world to identify people.”
The agency said data standards like ANSI/NIST-ITL 1-2011 only work when they’re implemented correctly in software applications. NIST said its researchers developed the new conformance testing methodologies and test tools to support the user community, product developers and testing labs to prevent problems.
Conformance testing captures the technical description of a standard specification and measures whether an implementation faithfully executes the specification, it said. BioCTS, for example, checks if the record of an iris image has the correct data, in the proper order, as called for by the standard, so that it can be sent to, received correctly by and filed accurately by any user from the Department of Homeland Security to a small police department.
To support the conformance test suite, NIST said its scientists have developed two associated publications:
- Conformance Testing Methodology for ANSI/NIST-ITL 1-2011, Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprint, Facial and Other Biometric Information Release 1.0 (Special Publication 500-295). Developed by NIST with help from experts from government and industry, it provides computer programmers with the background information and methodology they need to develop a conformance test tool for the ANSI/NIST standard. SP 500-295 documents over 1,200 test assertions implemented in BioCTS 2012, to test for a range of record types from fingerprint images to iris images.
- BioCTS 2012: Advanced Conformance Test Architectures and Test Suites for Biometric Data Interchange Formats and Biometric Information Records (NIST Interagency Report 7877) describes the implementation details of BioCTS 2012. NISTIR 7877 includes information on the conformance test architecture, for the ANSI/NIST–ITL 1-2011 standard and for conformance test suites designed to test implementations of biometric data interchange standards developed by Subcommittee 37– Biometrics of the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1–Information Technology and Biometric Information Records (BIRs) conforming to the Common Biometric Exchange Formats Framework (CBEFF).
BioCTS, said the agency, currently covers several key types of biometric data, including, for example, fingerprints; facial images; scars, marks and tattoos; and iris images. NIST plans to extend the test tools to support additional biometric record types of the ANSI/NIST-ITL standard as well as other international biometric standards. Information regarding BioCTS 2012 testing architectures, code structure, and other software design details is provided in NISTIR 7877.
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