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CAT2 request goes out for facial recognition at US airports

The U.S. government is advertising for a vendor that can add face biometrics to its existing ability to validate document-credentialing stations at airports.

And while many system performance requirements are detailed in the government’s request for proposals, there is no necessary threshold for the accuracy of facial recognition specified.

The Department of Homeland Security contract tops out at $128 million, but if it is anything like the original travel document-authentication program, it will be expanded almost continuously to reach more ports of entry beyond initial plans.

Credential authentication technology, or CAT, ID authenticators, built by ID-verification vendor Idemia, are used by dozens of U.S. airports (including, as of this month, MBS International in the state of Michigan) scan acceptable forms of ID to make sure they are not fraudulent.

Idemia also supplies the CAT2 (sometimes styled CAT II) devices used in the three pilots TSA ran to determine the final requirements.

CAT2 stations still authenticate driving licenses, passports and other official identification documents, but they would have cameras to take photos of faces. Recorded images are compared in real time with photos in a traveler’s document to validate the ID.

CAT2 stations also have to confirm a traveler’s flight reservation and pre-screening status.

The winning vendor will have a choice of biometric algorithms – one of their creating or the DHS’ Enterprise Facial Recognition Technology algorithm.

There is no mention of facial recognition system transparency in the RFP, so travelers may not be able to find out what algorithm they are matched with.

The DHS is responsible for accurately tracking people entering and leaving the country. The Transportation Security Administration, a part of the DHS, will manage the proposal process and the finished stations.

Questions about the request must be submitted by September 9, and proposals are due by September 30. Read More

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