NIST report details potential benefits of biometrics for first responders

NIST released a new draft report that highlights some of the potential benefits of using biometric identification technology in emergency response situations. It then details some of the barriers that could hamper adoption rates.

The “Using mobile device biometrics to authenticate first respondersThe report applies specifically to public safety organizations (PSOs), a category that includes firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement. These professionals often need to access and manage sensitive information in the field, and biometric technology enables faster authentication than more traditional methods like passwords. This makes biometrics more and more attractive, as more and more smartphones and tablets offer built-in support for the technology.

The problem is that rescuers often wear multiple layers of personal protective equipment that make it impossible to use certain modalities. For example, a paramedic cannot perform a fingerprint scan while wearing a latex glove, and a firefighter cannot use facial recognition while wearing a full face mask.

With this in mind, NIST argues that PSOs should ensure that there is always a backup authentication option, whether it is a password or some other knowledge factor. These PSOs should also be careful to choose biometric credentials that make sense given their equipment and job responsibilities.

NIST then noted that emergency responders often use shared devices, which creates additional safety concerns. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this challenge. A single device can often store biometric information for multiple user profiles, and in the future, PSOs may be able to load devices with temporary profiles that are deleted each time the device is passed to a new user. .

In the meantime, technological advancements could make biometrics more feasible in a wider range of settings. Wearable technologies are particularly noteworthy in this regard, although facial recognition, speech recognition, and typing dynamics all have potential utility.

Source: Secure ID

July 15, 2021 – by Eric Weiss

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