Newly Published International Standards Support Biometric Technologies

ISO and IEC develop standards for biometrics interoperability

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently published two highly anticipated standards to promote interoperability among biometrics technologies. Aiding in the identification and verification of individuals based on physiological or behavioral traits, biometric applications such as signature, fingerprint, and eye recognition systems are currently used to address concerns such as homeland security and passport control, identity theft, and electronic commerce.

The standards were developed by the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology (JTC 1) and its Subcommittee on Biometrics (SC 37). INCITS M1 serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for JTC 1/SC 37, and is responsible for establishing U.S. positions and contributions to the subcommittee. The new International Standards are largely based on U.S. submissions of relevant standards and documents.

ISO/IEC 19784-1:2006, Information Technology - Biometric Application Programming Interface - Part 1: BioAPI Specification, defines a function that allows software applications to operate with one or more biometric technologies. The standard makes use of a high-level authentication model suited to a wide array of biometric technologies, enabling biometric system components from different vendors to interoperate. Covering the enrollment, verification and identification of basic biometric functions, the standard also includes a function that enables applications to store and manage biometric records.

ISO/IEC 19785-1:2006, Information Technology - Common Biometric Exchange Formats Framework - Part 1: Data Element Specification, defines a three-part structure for biometric records within the Common Biometric Exchange Formats Framework (CBEFF)—a file format that promotes interoperability among different applications and systems. The standard establishes a means by which organizations can specify format requirements for biometric information records. Part two of ISO/IEC 19785, Procedures for the Operation of the Biometric Registration Authority, specifies requirements for assigning unique identifier values to biometric organizations, formats, and products.

These standards (available for purchase from the ANSI website,, among others, will be discussed at the annual Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC), a forum to explore the latest advancements in biometrics research, development, and technology. The conference will take place September 19-21, 2006, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. ANSI serves as a sponsor and supporting organization of the event.