Negotiation Tactics and ROI Recommendations for Law Enforcement ABIS Platforms

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3Q 2021 | IN-6247

As international potential security threats grow, law enforcement is looking to shift towards biometric identification processes.

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Increased Threats Force System Upgrades


The emergence of new forms of internal and global threats, including terrorism and military conflicts, have forced a response from governments protecting their borders. This has included enhancing system capabilities for criminal justice and security operations and equipping their personnel with next-generation biometric devices used for registration and identification of criminals, as well as wanted and dangerous individuals. The use of biometrics in law enforcement has been historically used even prior to the digitization revolution and the advent of biometric criminal platforms. What started as a latent imprint on a surface followed by a finger dipped in ink in past decades has reached a new technological threshold. The law enforcement market was always a leading driver and major absorber of identification technologies with criminal justice and law enforcement agencies provided some much-needed groundwork and standardization for biometrics. However, in recent years biometric technologies are becoming increasingly more relevant to governments worldwide as law enforcement identification platforms expand their database capacity, processing potential, and application versatility.

A Lucrative, Albeit Challenging, Strategy


ABI Research’s new analysis report on the use of Biometrics in Law Enforcement settings (AN-5245) revealed a plethora of companies attempting to get a bigger slice of market and secure new projects, including IT and infrastructure implementers, biometric hardware manufacturers, system integrators, software and algorithm developers. This is not done out of a purely law enforcement focused business strategy, but also with a view to leverage new governmental applications and expand into other adjacent markets in civil automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS)/automatic biometric identification system (ABIS), border control, healthcare, and education.

This can be a lucrative opportunity, albeit a challenging one. Law enforcement agencies do not possess the luxury of system flexibility and connectivity services enjoyed by commercial IoT-focused applications and companies are expected to provide hardware, software, and platform services that meet their clients’ exact specifications. In order to secure additional governmental projects, platform developers must provide a robust system able to provide scalable results for further expansion.  IT infrastructure and database experts must cooperate with algorithm developers to increase processing power without sacrificing security or accuracy, and system integrators are expected to migrate existing solutions from other companies onto theirs or their strategic partners. Perhaps most challenging of all might just be the tasks for biometric device manufacturers which are vacillating between upgrading their hardware components, ensuring the reliability of their SDKs, ensuring regulatory compliance, factoring application breadth for target or adjacent applications, and ensuring more appealing prices to compete successfully against the ever-expanding competitive landscape.

Agencies are Adamant on Lower TCO


Law enforcement agencies and governmental stakeholders are not simply swayed by the innovative range of biometric devices, the matching algorithm speed or streamlined multi-tenancy options of automated biometric identification (ABIS) platforms. Return-on-investment (ROI) and budget priorities are extremely important, and negotiations are usually accompanied by quite arduous processes whereby the number of endpoint devices, system integration, maintenance costs, and overall TCO become key negotiating points. ABI Research suggests the following key negotiation entry points for implementers attempting to break into a new governmental project, expand their footprint into other applications, and secure new projects.

For starters, on the software side of things, implementers must ensure reliability of matching algorithms. The rise of new and more accurate biometric algorithms increasing processing and matching speed for 1:1 (usually takes a few seconds) and 1:N (a few minutes), which will invariantly open discussions for new biometric matching applications and, in turn, new system integration options.

Second, the incorporation of multimodal biometrics into criminal databases worldwide is a key factor for new AFIS to ABIS system upgrades with increased storage, management, and database processing capacity. Additionally, companies are advised to increase their R&D to improve analytics for AI-borne applications which sharpen image and video analytics for latent data capture, opening up discussions with surveillance operations and real-time behavioral analytics for transportation, border control, and correctional facilities.

Third, interoperability is of the utmost importance, whether it is achieved through a foundation of open-standards system architecture or service integrations. Increased cooperation and data sharing with international agencies, which can be an important, albeit niche, bargaining chip with certain agencies. Note that this is highly dependent upon governmental openness and political and regime mandates.

Fourth, sharpen the capabilities of hardware components to lower replacement rate (i.e., less demanding for HQ or field personnel), and do not presume that all agencies are the same. Tailor offerings according to stakeholders, i.e., police, social and criminal priorities, and personnel-focused characteristics. Note that newer form factors and advanced specifications for biometric devices will undergo new certification rounds from the FBI, NIST, ANSI, FCC, and CE.

Fifth, always address infrastructure security alongside new systemic upgrades. There is an increasingly vital need to protect governmental systems against cyberattacks and to create a unified, secure, interoperable digital environment and a solid infrastructure with a scalable biometric system capable of supporting multiple law enforcement operations.