Identity Management

Hockey footage aids in biometric system choice

hockey puck

The Department of Homeland Security will use video footage collected at a recent Western Hockey League game in Washington state to compare various facial recognition technologies. It's part of an effort to help other federal agencies decide what kind of recognition system they might need.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) gathered the video at the request of DHS Science & Technology Directorate's Resilient Systems Division.

DHS Science & Technology Directorate spokesman John Verrico told FCW that the video footage collected by PNNL would be used to compare the capabilities of various current state-of-the-art and commonly available, off-the-shelf facial recognition systems in changeable, realistic conditions.

The video was taken with standard video cameras, not specialized equipment, he said. Standard-grade cameras are more commonly used at government agencies than cameras capable of capturing extreme detail. Using the standard cameras would present a more typical foundation to measure the effectiveness of facial recognition systems, Verrico said.

The results of the comparisons, he said, could be used by federal agencies "to figure out what their needs are and what kind of capabilities" might fill them.

PNNL collected generic background video of the crowd gathered at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash., on Sept. 21 to watch the Tri-City Americans' season opener. In the crowd, however, were 20 PNNL volunteers who had agreed to be identified by DHS in its comparison work as they walked the arena's concourse and stood in concession lines. Hockey fans were notified in advance of the activity and given capabilities to avoid cameras and opt out of being recorded.

The video was taken from several set locations in the arena's concourse before and during the game, according to PNNL. The Toyota Center has been used as a test bed for data collection since 2008.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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