recommended reading

FBI builds facial recognition app

FBI special agent Richard Deslauriers, right, speaks during a news conference about their hunt for fugitives James "Whitey" Bulger and Catherine Greig in 2011.  The FBIs facial recognition app would help identify criminal suspects in the field.

FBI special agent Richard Deslauriers, right, speaks during a news conference about their hunt for fugitives James "Whitey" Bulger and Catherine Greig in 2011. The FBIs facial recognition app would help identify criminal suspects in the field. // Michael Dwyer/AP

The FBI is creating a mobile tool for collecting facial images, iris scans and other biometric indicators to tag suspects in the field, according to federal acquisition documents.

Authorities are two years away from completing a $1 billion facial recognition system that will modernize the bureau’s 13-year-old biometric fingerprint database. The envisioned app will be able to contribute to the system’s growing compilation of crime scene photos, iris scans police file and other digitized images of physical traits.

The software is aimed at providing “FBI users the tools needed in order to access the biometric identification power of the U.S. government in real time, at any point on the planet in support of operations,” a Nov. 6 solicitation notice states. The bureau already has a biometric-enabled laptop developed in 2010 that consists of a fingerprint and an iris scanner, camera, military battery, and either a wireless adaptor or satellite communications connection.

Now, federal agents want the ability to hunt criminals on foot and quickly nail down traits revealing who they are and what they have done in the past -- and save that information in a dossier for future reference. So the FBI is vetting software that would add the same biometric features available on laptops to smaller wireless devices, officials said. The project intends “to establish a mobile biometric handheld software solution for capturing biometric and biographical data,” the notice states.

The planned app will let agents disable or add specific data collection functions, including “camera integration, fingerprint capture devices, integrity checks for fingerprints and biographic verification features,” depending on the nature of their pursuit.

The deadline for companies to submit software proposals is Nov. 26.

The Homeland Security Department maintains a biometric database that interfaces with the FBI system to monitor the entry and exit of potentially dangerous foreign nationals. On Wednesday, a DHS advisory committee presented officials with draft recommendations for ensuring privacy is protected when foreigners’ digital traits are collected and shared.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.