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NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is seeking biometric authentication technologies. These technologies need to be low-cost, deployable, and mobile systems for applications intended for first responders. Systems must have high accuracy and low error rates. NIST is open to multiple biometric authentication modalities including but not limited to facial recognition, fingerprints, behavioral, gait, cardiac signature, and others.



NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) team has taken on the task of helping public safety (PS) organizations understand authentication technologies, the best practices for deploying them, and making informed risk decisions during their authentication system design. In support of this mission, PSCR security must be forward looking to future generations of authentication technologies. They must also understand how these technologies work, such that PSCR security can provide guidance for PS communities who are looking to implement innovative technologies that better meet their unique requirements.

Biometric authentication is a security measure identifying ‘who someone is’ rather than having them remember a password or carry a physical key. Biometric authentication can be used as an effective way to grant first responders secure access to information and devices in time-sensitive situations. In order to provide actionable and accurate guidelines to inform PS organizations about the use and implementation of biometric authentication, the PSCR team at NIST, with the support of yet2, is gathering information about the biometric authentication technologies currently in the marketplace. Specifically, NIST is seeking biometric authentication technologies that can improve the safety, security, and efficiency of the public safety community.




  • Biometric authentication modality that can be used by first responders
  • Must be commercially available or near-commercial stage (next 1-5 years)
  • High accuracy rates (ISO/IEC 2382-37 Standards – no more than 1/1000 false positives)
  • Mobile or portable



  • Fused or combined biometric solutions
  • Wearable form factor
  • Low cost
  • Easily deployable to large organizations


Possible Solution Areas:

  • New biometric authentication modalities:
    • Behavioral biometrics products, which might use gait, keystrokes, touch screen swipes patterns and other patterns of the user to authenticate them.
    • Fused biometrics products, which might use behavioral biometrics, combined with more traditional physical biometrics of face, fingerprint, voice as well as environmental variables such as device location and device network.
    • Any new physical biometric products to include improvements on face, fingerprint and voice recognition or new modalities outside of those. Palm and iris technology is of little interest.
  • Wearable authenticators:
    • Authentication products that could be worn or integrated into the equipment on public safety personnel while in the line of duty, i.e. wireless capable authenticators (Bluetooth and near field communication), proximity-based authenticators (authenticate within a specific geographic range of a system).

Desired outcome of the solution:

NIST PSCR is open to potential collaborations or partnership opportunities.

Field of use and intended applications:

Provide first responders with convenient authentication modality to increase security, safety, and efficiency.

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