Page 20 - Security Today, October 2020
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Bringing Rapid Identification Mobile readers give immediate identification to police officers in the field
By Russell Megonigal
As biometric readers play an increasingly prominent role in law enforcement, one of the newest high- value use cases is the ability to identify persons of interest on the street using smaller mobile biometric readers that are easy and safe for officers to both carry and use.
These solutions allow police officers to perform watchlist matching within minutes while in the field without having to transport suspects to a police station or other central booking facility. Fully realizing these benefits requires a careful consider- ation of available solutions and their ability to meet the specific needs of the application while maximizing ease of use and bal- ancing cost and features.
Challenges with the Traditional Approach
Traditionally, a police officer in the field will challenge some- one for their identity documents if they have reason to believe that they are suspicious. Suspects may produce false documents -- or no documents at all -- if they are trying to conceal their identity. In this case, the officer transports them to a police station for fur- ther investigation, which can often involve taking biometric in- formation, such as fingerprints, and comparing against local and international databases.
The impacts from this type of identity investigation may in- clude taking a police officer away from patrol duties on the streets for many hours in order to secure suspects, transport them to the police station, complete the necessary paperwork, finish the investigation and complete the process.
Other officers and a vehicle may also be involved in transport- ing a suspect, and the suspect may need to be detained until the processing equipment becomes available. All of this comes at a cost both financially and operationally. There may also be the reputational impact of detaining innocent people because they have inadequate or no identity documents. This is a waste of time for the police and the innocent party.
Bringing Biometrics to the Streets
The solution is to adapt fingerprint reader technology for field use that, typically, has been quite bulky. Recent advances in technol- ogy and software developments now make this possible, allowing for smaller and more ergonomically designed fingerprint readers.
Because these solutions are also compatible with both iOS and AndroidTM devices, biometric reader hardware can be paired with a broad range of mobile devices, tablets, or laptops to create a truly flexible and mobile solution.
These solutions can come in two packaging options so they can be easily carried by officers while also allowing them to use their own devices. The first is a one-handed folio case that holds both the fingerprint reader and the smartphone. The second can include a flip case that holds the reader separate from the smart- phone or other device. In both scenarios, officers simply pair their own device with the reader hardware and can identify persons of interest wherever they encounter them by performing watchlist
matching against a relevant database within minutes.
The workflow usually begins when the operator launches the smartphone app. Some devices also have features, such as illumi- nated “landing lights,” that help guide users through the process of capturing fingerprints to help ensure they meet recognized in- ternational standards. The device takes a single fingerprint and compares the individual’s information over the air with the vari-
ous available local and international databases.
If someone is confirmed to have a criminal record, they can
be immediately detained. If they are not recorded on any of the databases, they can be immediately released. In either case, the in- teraction is typically completed in minutes and there is no need to spend time or resources to transport the person to a police station.
Evaluating Available Options
Among the attributes that police departments should consider when evaluating biometric readers for in-the-field rapid identifica- tion, durability is one of the most critical. Features such as a glass coating on the reader’s sensor and an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 65 can help ensure the most durability, functionality, and value out of the solution. Other features, such as thin film transistor (TFT) technology, also provide a host of benefits. Among these are the ability for readers to capture high-quality images in all light- ing conditions (such as direct or indirect sunlight) and when fin- gerprint surfaces are not optimal (dirty, stained, etc.), which helps ensure compliance with international standards. TFT technology also enables a very small and thin form factor.
Ensuring that mobile biometric readers support both An-

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