New standards keep biometric data on the same page

Read time 1min 50sec

Biometric technology is increasingly widespread, used as a means to verify identities in many domains such as border controls using machine-readable passports, healthcare, voter identification and restricted access areas.

Biometric data interchange formats provide the common language that allows for interoperability between different biometric technologies. As the field of applications has grown to give rise to different generations of such formats, so too has the need to ensure they are all compatible with one another.

The expert committee on biometrics of ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has already developed a number of International Standards for a wide variety of applications.

In order to avoid any future interoperability issues, the experts are developing an additional series of standards that provide the formats capable of being extended in a defined way. 

The first in this series have just been published and include:

  • ISO/IEC 39794-1Informationtechnology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats –Part 1: Framework
  • ISO/IEC 39794-4, Informationtechnology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats – Part 4: Fingerimage data
  • ISO/IEC 39794-5, Informationtechnology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats – Part 5: Face imagedata

These standardswill supersede the corresponding parts of the ISO/IEC 19794 series for data interchange formats, and it is anticipated they will be adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as the basis for their standard 9303 on machine-readable travel documents later this year.

Patrick Grother, chair of the ISO/IEC technical committee responsible for the ISO/IEC39794 series, says it is the latest in a large and comprehensive set of International Standards that support interoperability in biometrics.

“We intend to have internationally agreed standards for all biometric modalities, taking into account the diverse range of applications, the often sensitive nature of the data and the various regulatory and jurisdictional requirements,” he said.

The ISO/IEC39794 series will be complemented by future additions, including specific parts related to iris, vascular, full body and gait image data.

The standards can be purchased from a national ISO member (SABS in South Africa) or through the ISO Store 

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