Automated Biometric Identification Systems (ABIS)2018-09-19T14:06:59-04:00

Biometrics Technology

Automated Biometric Identification Systems (ABIS)

An automated biometric identification system, or ABIS, is used for large-scale biometric identification and deduplication. An ABIS performs a one-to-many comparison of a “probe” sample to samples in a database containing many biometric templates. This enables matching of a live sample against many existing biometric templates to find a record of a particular individual and verify his or her identity. This is in contrast to one-to-one verification – one biometric template, one user sample.

Automated Biometric Identification SystemHistory of ABIS

The earliest example of an ABIS is the “Automated Fingerprint Identification System” (AFIS). The FBI created AFIS in the 1980s. “AFIS” – and “ABIS” – are now used as more general descriptors rather than a single system. An ABIS performs that same function as an AFIS but can search additional modalities beyond fingerprints, such as face and iris.

AFIS became IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in 1999 when the system was enabled with the ability to be searched by organizations outside the FBI. Roughly 18,000 local, state, tribal, federal, and international partners now access IAFIS.

In 2004, the Department of Defense implemented the first ABIS to track and identify national security threats. By 2005, DoD had made IAFIS and ABIS interoperable to consolidate and simplify one-to-many biometric searches.

While ABIS technology was initially developed for law enforcement applications, their uses have broadened considerably beyond law enforcement and even beyond government.

Public sector use cases

Today, there are two primary types of ABIS used in the public sector:

  1. Criminal ABIS: The key differentiating feature of a criminal ABIS is its ability to processes and analyze latent fingerprints (e.g., those left behind at a crime scene) and compares them against an existing database of fingerprint samples. Nowadays, video surveillance can also be collected for comparison against existing facial image samples, e.g. “mug shots”. Law enforcement agencies enroll biometric data from criminal suspects as part of a booking process. In an investigation, they can use examiner workstation applications to prepare biometric data for search and to help interpret and refine results.
  2. Civil ABIS: A Civil ABIS is not used for criminal investigation, and so the ability to submit latent fingerprints or video surveillance footage for search are not included . Use cases for civil ABIS generally involve the voluntary submission of biometrics as part of an enrollment process. These biometrics might be submitted for search law enforcement systems. . For example, a civil ABIS can be used to ensure that a visa applicant is not in a criminal database. Civil ABIS is also useful as an identity proofing measure towards benefits fraud prevention. Specifically, it prevents an individual with an existing identity from creating a false alias by collecting a fingerprint sample or performing a facial scan at the time of enrollment.

Private sector use cases

Some examples of ABIS use cases in the private sector include:

  • Healthcare: In some countries ABIS are used to determine a patient’s identity prior to care delivery. The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that the implementation of biometric technologies can improve patient verification worldwide, especially in developing countries where patients may be less likely to carry a form of civilian ID.
  • Enterprise: ABIS can also be used by enterprises as they perform identity checks as part of the onboarding process for new customers or employees. Biometrics can can be used to definitively determine if an applicant is already registered in the system, perhaps with different biographic information. Applicant’s biometrics can also be used for search against a criminal database.

Aware products for ABIS

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