Biometrics & Terror Attacks. Invent Mayhem for DARPA. Patrick Tucker, Defense One.

Mar 25, 2016, 06:24 AM

03-25-2016 (Photo: Biometric recognition) Twitter: @BatchelorShow Biometrics & Terror Attacks. Invent Mayhem for DARPA. Patrick Tucker, Defense One. "The departments of Defense and Homeland Security have invested in technology to prevent attacks like the one in Brussels, including facial recognition technology that can spot and flag a suspected terrorist in a car heading toward an airport or crowded subway. But bringing that technology out of the lab and getting it to airports and street corners is a lot harder than just snapping a photo…. “The attack on Zaventem doesn’t point to a specific weakness in airport security, said one DHS official who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the incident with media. “The reality is, they did it in a public area of the airport. The assumption that they determined that it would be too difficult to get any deeper into the airport is a reasonable assumption to make,” the official said. “When events like this happen, we play extraordinarily close attention to them. Could it happen here? If so, how could we interdict it?” “In order to thwart an attack, a facial-recognition-based system must have access to a database that already contains the would-be perpetrator’s face, sensors that can obtain usable snapshots of people approaching the protected area, and a way to alert guards or otherwise cut off access to the target. Getting all three of those at once is the challenge of securing a place like an airport’s departure area or a metro station….”

“For decades, U.S. national security was ensured in large part by a simple advantage: a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies. Increasingly, however, off-the-shelf equipment developed for the transportation, construction, agricultural and other commercial sectors features highly sophisticated components, which resourceful adversaries can modify or combine to create novel and unanticipated security threats,” the agency wrote in a press release announcing the Improv program. The broad agency announcement, or BAA, puts almost no limit on the scope of the technology that engineers can use in their exploration. It’s an unusual BAA, as they go, specifically designed to catch the attention not just of favored defense contractors but also “skilled hobbyists.” So get your mad scientist hat out, but don’t break the law.