COVID-19 boosts importance of DHS 'rally' to improve facial recognition technology

COVID-19 boosts importance of DHS 'rally' to improve facial recognition technology

May 26, 2021

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is calling for submissions to participate in its 2021 Biometric Technology Rally at the Maryland Test Facility (MdTF) this fall.

The 2021 Biometric Technology Rally will focus on evaluating the effectiveness of systems for collecting or matching individuals wearing and not wearing masks, building on the high throughput tests conducted over the past three years. The idea is to improve biometric recognition without requiring travellers to remove their protective gear, which would reduce risk for the public and frontline DHS personnel.

The 2020 results showed significant improvement in matching accuracy for people with masks.

DHS is calling on providers of face and multi-modal biometric acquisition systems, as well as matching algorithms, to join the Rally.

“In the past year, we have seen tremendous innovation from the biometrics industry to adapt to new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” comments Arun Vemury, director of S&T’s Biometric and Identity Technology Center. “We observed very strong performances from technology developers; especially in their ability to recognize individuals under previously challenging situations. Now it’s time to see if further innovation and improvement can be achieved to further reduce errors and provide more consistent and equitable performance under challenging conditions.”

Participating technology providers will have an opportunity to showcase their technologies to government and private sector stakeholders in a Stakeholder Demonstration Day, which in past events has included more than 30 organizations such as DHS, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the FBI, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the General Services Administration, international government partners, the aviation industry and other parties in critical infrastructure.

DHS tests the performance of the systems and provides feedback to industry participants, and also uses the data to inform its planning activities.

Participating biometrics providers last year included NEC America and Rank One Computing.