FOUNDER, LAU TECHNOLOGIES and VIISAGE TECHNOLOGY
SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY, TERRORISM, AND
BIOMETRIC IDENTIFIERS AND THE MODERN FACE OF TERROR:
NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM
NOVEMBER 14, 2001
MADAME CHAIRWOMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE,
I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify on the important
issue of how biometric technology, and specifically facial recognition
technology can be used to prevent persons who wish to carry out acts
of terrorism from entering the United States.
As the founder and CEO of Lau Technologies I have devoted the last
decade to the use of technology to ensure National Defense. This has
led us to create our affiliate, VIISAGE Technology to advance the use
of facial recognition technology; a technology that I believe has the
potential to fill an important role in this Nations current border
Almost all Americans believe that September 11, 2001 has shown that
our borders are not as secure as we once thought that they were. However,
it is only by reviewing and changing the current border security measures,
as you are doing Madame Chairwoman, that we will be able to move forward
and stay abreast with the threats that our nation now faces. We must
admit that there is no single answer, or silver bullet to
solving our border security issues. Those of us in the private sector
must be careful about over-promising or exaggerating ready made
solutions. Clearly, we have tools that can help, one of which
I will explain and demonstrate today. Our fellow citizens are demanding
better technology and better law enforcement and I am pleased that my
company is in a position to contribute. Let me tell you about facial
Background on Facial Recognition Technology
Almost a decade ago, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) pioneered a facial recognition method known as Eigenfaces.
Using this technique, any facial image taken from still photographs,
live or recorded video or composite sketches, can be enrolled into the
Eigenface" system, which then reduces an individuals
face characteristics to 128 coefficients. Once enrolled, and using our
algorithm, these images can be compared for possible matches.
Lau Technologies acquired the rights to the MIT technology in 1994.
Since that time we have spent millions of dollars and over 100 person-years
to build on the original Eiganface algorithm. Today we have 25 patents
in place or pending and each face that is compared using our system
is subjected to several different algorithms.
From an operational perspective, this software allows law enforcement
to compare any face against a digital mug-shot book of images
in real time to determine if there are possible matches. In the past,
it would have taken an indidual hours to manually make this type of
comparision with even a few thousand images In the State of Illinois,
we are currenly matching all new driver license applications against
a database of 8.4 million existing drivers licenses, to identify fraud
and duplicates. Once a search is completed and a gallery is displayed,
it is then up to the operator to review the possible matches and determine
how to proceed. In this way, facial recogntion technology acts as a
powerful force multiplier for investigators.
To date, the technology has been used successfully by Federal, State
and local government and the private sector for close to five years.
Let me give you several examples:
Pinellas County, Florida - This year with funding provided by Congress,
the Pinellas County, FL Sheriffs Office began implementing facial
recognition to assist with jail operations and criminal investigations.
Casino Surveillance Our technology is currently being used in
over 100 casinos worldwide. These establishments have enhanced their
existing cameras with our technology to allow security officers to compare
visitors against a database of close to 10,000 known cheats. Since then,
the system has identified hundreds of unwanted individuals.
Access Control today, the United States Army, Navy, Air Force
and the Federal Aviation Administration use the technology for access
NFL Super Bowl In cooperation with Federal, State and local
law enforcement, our company provided facial recognition technology
at last years Super Bowl in Tampa, FL. Over 60,000 faces were
scanned as they entered the stadium and their pictures were compared
to a database that included terrorists, fugitives as well as known scalpers
and pickpockets. While no one was arrested, 19 probable matches were
made using the software. After each comparison that did not result in
a match, the individuals image was immediately destroyed.
State of Illinois Perhaps one of the most successful applications
is the 8.4 million drivers license images that are being scanned everyday
for duplicates and fraud, which I described earlier. This is by far
the largest facial recognition database in the world.
We recently learned that the U.S. Marshals used the Illinois system
to confirm information about one of their 15 Most Wanted Fugitives.
Using only facial recognition, the Marshals compared a booking photograph
of Daniel Escobedo to the DMV database. Within seconds, Mr. Escabedos
drivers license came up first in a database of over 8 million
images. The drivers license confirmed information that the Marshals
had recently discovered using more traditional investigative techniques,
that helped led to Mr. Escabidos arrest.
Since September 11th, we have obviously focused on how we can help
ensure the security of our borders. We are working with various Federal
Agencies to determine how to best utilize this technology and I wanted
to bring to your attention a few applications that we feel could be
As you are well aware, last month Ambassador Mary Ryan indicated in
testimony before this very Subcommittee that she would like to expand
the use of facial recognition technology with the Visa program. We believe
an immediate use of facial recognition technology would be the full
enrollment and comparison of the State Departments visa database.
With an estimated 10 million images already in the database, facial
recognition is the only biometric that can compare every individual
in this database against every other individual to look for multiple
visas under assumed names. In addition, we could immediately run all
10 million images against the FBI and Intelligence communitys
database of wanted terrorists. Most important to the on-going War on
Terrorism, we have the capability to carry out this entire process in
less than 90 days.
Going forward, as new visas are issued around the world there will
continue to be a need to run these images against the faces of wanted
terrorists. In almost every case, the only biometric information that
we have about these terrorists is a picture. We would propose that as
part of the application process, in addition to the security checks
already undertaken, every individuals picture would be compared
to the watch-list before a visa is issued.
Port of Entry Screening
After a visa has been issued, we see a further use of facial recognition
technology as a method of screening passengers at the Point of Entry.
The use of biometric technology for airport security was recently endorsed
in the Department of Transportations Airport Security report.
We currently have deployed this surveillance technology at the International
airport in Fresno, California and we are in talks with over a dozen
additional airports throughout the United States.
In these airports, cameras will be used to quickly capture images of
passengers and compare them against the terrorist watch-list. If a match
is not made, the passengers image is immediately destroyed. In
the event that a possible match is made, the passenger is further investigated.
As Congress undertakes the vitally important task of securing our borders,
it is clear that biometric technology can play a role. Specifically,
if a face is available, and time is limited, facial recognition technology
is a valuable tool to further ensure identification and security.
With that, I am available to answer any questions you might have and
would be happy to demonstrate for you how the technology works.