BIOMETRICS

July 30, 2015


INTRODUCTION:

Biometrics may be a fairly new term to some individuals so it is entirely appropriate at this time to define the technology.  This will lay the groundwork for the discussion to follow.  According to the International Biometric Society:

“Biometrics is used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition.”

The terms “Biometrics” and “Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.

From the Free Dictionary we see the following definition:

  • The statistical study of biological phenomena.
  • The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns for use in verifying the identity of individuals.
  • Biometrics refers to metrics related to human characteristics. Biometrics authentication (or realistic authentication) is used in computer science as a form of identification and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance.

Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Biometric identifiers are often categorized as physiological versus behavioral characteristics. Physiological characteristics are related to the shape of the body.  Examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins and odor/scent.  Behavioral characteristics are related to the pattern of behavior of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice.  Some researchers have coined the term behaviometrics to describe the latter class of biometrics.

More traditional means of access control include token-based identification systems, such as a driver’s license or passport, and knowledge-based identification systems, such as a password or personal identification number.  Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than token and knowledge-based methods; however, the collection of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information.

The oldest biometric identifier is facial recognition. The dimensions, proportions and physical attributes of a person’s face are unique and occur very early in infants.   A child will (obviously) recognize a parent, a brother or sister.  It is only since the advent of computers and accompanying software that the ability to quantify facial features has become possible.

The FBI has long been a leader in biometrics and has used various forms of biometric identification since the very earliest day.  This Federal institution assumes responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924.  As you know, fingerprints vary from person to person (even identical twins have different prints) and don’t change over time. As a result, they are an effective way of identifying fugitives and helping to prove both guilt and innocence.

We will discuss fingerprints, as well as other modes of identification, later on in this course.

BIOMETRIC APPLICATIONS:

In the last several years, improvements in the technology have greatly increased application.  It is expected that in the near future, we will use biometry many times in our daily activities such as getting in the car, opening the door of our house, accessing our bank account, shopping by internet, accessing our PDA, mobile phone, laptops, etc. Depending on where biometric systems are deployed, the applications can be categorized in the following five main groups:  1.) Forensic, 2.) Government, 3.) Commercial, 4.) Health-care, and 5.) Traveling and immigration. However, some applications are common to these groups such as physical access, PC/network access, time and attendance, etc.

Forensic:

The use of biometric technology in law enforcement and forensic analysis applied to law enforcement, has been known and used for quite some time.  That technology is used mainly for identification of criminals. In particular, the AFIS (automatic fingerprint identification system) has been used for this purpose.  Recently, facial-scan technology or mug shots are being used for the identification of suspects. Another possible application is the verification of individuals considered for arrest as suspects in home and auto break-ins.  The typical applications are:

  • Identification of criminals- Collecting evidence, such as fingerprints, at the scene of a crime makes it possible to compare information relative to an existing database.  You often hear in the movies of investigating officers “dusting for fingerprints”. This has been and is common practice.
  • Surveillance –-Using cameras, one can monitor very busy areas such as stadiums, airports, meeting rooms, etc. to determine the presence of criminal suspects or when suspected criminal activity could be a possibility.   Based on the face recognition biometric, using images (e.g., mug shots), database files of wanted persons or criminals may be integrated to verify their presence. Since the events of September 11, 2001, the interest in biometric surveillance has increased dramatically, especially for air travel. There are many cameras monitoring crowds at airports for detecting wanted terrorists.
  • Corrections –This refers to the treatment of offenders (criminals) through a system of penal incarceration, rehabilitation, probation, and parole, or the administrative system by which these are effectuated. In this cases a biometric system can avoid the possibility of accidentally releasing the wrong prisoner, or to ensure that people leaving the facilities are really visitors and not inmates.
  • Probation and home arrest – Biometrics can also be used for post-release programs (conditional release) to ensure the fulfillment of the probation, parole and home detention terms.

Government:

There are many application of biometric technology used and operating in the government sector. An AFIS or Automatic Fingerprint Identification System is the primary means for locating duplicate entities enrolled in benefits systems, electronic voting for local or national elections, issuance of driver’s license emission, etc. The typical application is:

  • National Identification Cards – The idea is to include digital biometric information in the national identification card. This is the most ambitious biometric program, since the identification must be performed in a large-scale database, containing hundreds of millions of samples, corresponding to the whole population of one country. These cards can be used for multiple purposes such as controlling the collection of benefits, avoiding duplicates of voter registration and drivers license usage.    These applications are primarily based on finger-scan and AFIS technology; however it is possible that facial-scan and iris-scan technology could be used in the future.
  • Voter ID and Elections – While the biometric national identification (ID) card is still an ongoing project in the United States, many countries already use this mode of biometry to control  voting and voter registration.  These ID cards are used for national and/or regional elections. During the registration of voters, biometric data is captured and embedded in the card with matching data in a stored database for the later use. The purpose is to prevent duplicate registration and voting.
  • Driver’s licenses – In many countries a valid driver license is used as an identification document; therefore it is important to prevent duplication and use under a different name. Biometrics can eliminate this problem.  However, it is important that the data is shared between states, because in the United States, the license is controlled at the state level as opposed to the federal level.
  • Benefits Distribution (social service) – The use of biometry in benefits distribution prevents fraud and abuse within government benefits programs.  This can ensure that legitimate recipients have quick and convenient access to benefits such as unemployment, health care and social security.
  • Employee authentication – The government use of biometric data for PC, network, and data access is critical for securing buildings and thereby protection of confidential information.
  • Military programs – The military has long been interested in biometric technology and many of the advancements have come from R&D efforts financed by the government.  With this being the case, the technology has enjoyed extensive support from the national security community.

Commercial:

Banking and financial services represent enormous growth areas for biometric technology.   Many developments are currently in place with pilot projects initiated frequently. Several applications within the banking sector are:

  • Account access –Access to a specific personal or commercial account using Biometrics allows the financial institution to keep definitive records of account access by employees and customers. Using biometry, customers can access accounts and employees can log from their workstations or in person.
  • ATMs –Biometrics allowing ATM access, provides for more secure banking transactions. This access would probably be by virtue of fingerprint, retina or iris scans.
  • Expanded Service Kiosks –A more receptive market for biometrics may be special purpose kiosks, using biometric verification to allow a greater variety of financial transaction than are currently available through standard ATMs.
  • Online banking –Internet-based account access is already widely used in many places.  The inclusion of biometric technology will bring about much greater security for these transactions from home.  Currently, there are many pilot programs using biometrics in home banking.
  • Telephone transaction – Voice-scan biometric can be used to secure telephone-based banking transactions. In this application, when the consumer calls to execute a transaction, a biometric system will authenticate the customer’s identity based on his or her voice. There will be no need for any additional device.
  • PC/Network access –The use of biometric login to local PCs or remotely through networks increases the security of the overall system.  This definitely insures greater protection  of valuable information.
  • Physical access –Biometric technology is widely used for controlling the access to buildings or restricted areas.  This is very common right now.
  • E-commerce – Biometric e-commerce is the use of any biometric mode to verify the identity of individuals wishing to gain remote access for transaction involving goods or services.
  • Time and attendance monitoring –Biometrics can be used for controlling the presence of individuals in a given area. For example, for controlling time sheets of employees or the presence of students in a classroom.  Hand and palm readers are very prevalent in manufacturing locations for use in clocking in and clocking out.

Health Care:

Applications for this sector include identification or verification of individuals interacting with a health-care entity or acting in the capacity of health-care employees or other professionals. The main purpose being prevention of fraud, protecting patient information, and the control of pharmaceutical products. Typical application are:

  • PC/Network Access –To control the activity of employees needing to gain access to hospital networks.  Used primarily to protect patient information from unauthorized personnel.
  • Access of personal information – Patient information could possibly be stored on smart cards or secure networks allowing access for patients relative to their personal information.
  • Patient identification -In cases of emergency and when a patient does not have identification documentation, biometric identification may be a good alternative.   The DoD is experimenting with DNA samples carried by the uniformed soldier allowing doctors in emergency situations to access the patient’s records.

Travel and Immigration

The application in this sector includes the use of biometrics technology to identify or verify the identity of individuals interacting with systems during the course of travel.  This, of course, includes immigration entity or acting in the capacity of an immigration employee. Typical applications are:

  • Air travel –Many airports are already using a biometric system in to reduce inspection processing times for authorized travelers.
  • Border crossing –The use of biometrics to control the travelers crossing the national or state border is increasing, especially in regions with high volume of travelers or illegal immigrants.
  • Employee access –Several airports use biometrics to control the physical access of employees to secure areas.
  • Passports –Some countries already issues passports with biometric information on a barcode or smart chips. The use of biometrics prevents use of multiple passports for the same person and facilitates the identification at the airports and border controls.

As you can see, biometric technology may be one possibility for limiting or eliminating fraud and identity theft.  The technology is still developing and will provide many of the answers needed in years to come.

As always, I welcome your comments.

 

SOLAR IMPULSE

July 18, 2015


Several photographs for this post originate from The Daily Mail.com.  This is a publication from the UK.

There are several stories each year that really excite our imagination. One is the Solar Impulse and the travels that craft has accomplished over the past few months.  Even though the news releases are recent, the actual engineering and fabrication took years to accomplish.

THE CRAFT:

SOLAR IMAGE

Someone once said, “If it looks like it will fly—it will fly”.  I’m not too sure that can be deduced from the configuration above.  The next digital will give you a much better picture as to the overall structure.

FLIGHT (2)

CONFIGURATION:

Solar Impulse 2 is powered by 17,000 solar cells and on-board rechargeable lithium batteries, allowing it to fly through the night. Its wingspan is longer than a jumbo jet but its light construction keeps its weight to about as much as a car.  The Solar Impulse 2 relies on getting enough solar power during the day to survive the night. It is also extremely light – about the weight of a car – and yet as wide as a passenger jet. Both of these combined facts make it extremely susceptible to the weather. In high winds or turbulent circumstances it can struggle to stay aloft at the altitudes necessary to gather sunlight.

Its maximum altitude is 27,900ft (8,500m), before dropping to 3,280ft (1,000m).  This allows the pilot is able to take short 20-minute catnaps. One huge issue with the aircraft is pilot fatigue.  Solar Impulse 2 and its pilots André Borschberg and Betrand Piccard set off from Abu Dhabi in March with the hope of returning within five or six months. It was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Nagoya in Japan after bad weather stopped it taking off on its Pacific leg, but it successfully touched down in Hawaii on 3 July after 118 hours.

Bertrand Piccard initiated the Solar Impulse project in November 2003 after undertaking a feasibility study in partnership with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. By 2009, he had assembled a multi-disciplinary team of 50 engineers and technical specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers and 80 technological partners.  The project is financed by a number of private companies and individuals, as well as receiving around CHF 6 million (US$6.4 million) in funding from the Swiss government.

The first company to officially support the project was Semper Gestion, after its co-founder Eric Freymond was convinced of the future success of Piccard.  The project’s primary partners are Omega SASolvaySchindler and ABB.  Other partners and supporters of the project include Bayer MaterialScienceAltranSwisscomSwiss Re (Corporate Solutions),ClarinsToyotaBKW FMB Energie and Symphony Technology Group. The EPFL, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Dassault have provided additional technical expertise, while SunPower provided the aircraft’s photovoltaic cells. In October 2013, Solar Impulse announced that Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation, had become a supporter of the project after meeting with Solar Impulse officials during Google‘s 2013 Zeitgeist event.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Crew:1
  • Length:85 m (71.7 ft)
  • Wingspan:4 m (208 ft)
  • Height:40 m (21.0 ft)
  • Wing area:11,628 photovoltaic cells rated at 45 kW peak: 200 m2 (2,200 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio:7
  • Loaded weight:1,600 kg (3,500 lb)
  • takeoff weight:2,000 kg (4,400 lb)
  • Powerplant:4 × electric motors, 4 x 21 kWh lithium-ion batteries (450 kg), providing 7.5 kW (10 HP) each
  • Propeller diameter:5 m at 200 to 400 rpm (11 ft)
  • Take-off speed:35 kilometers per hour (22 mph)

Performance

 

TIMELINE FOR SUCCESS:

If we look at the timeline, we see the following:

  • 2003: Feasibility study at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • 2004–2005: Development of the concept
  • 2006: Simulation of long-haul flights
  • 2006–09: Construction of first prototype (HB-SIA; Solar Impulse 1)
  • 2009: First flight of Solar Impulse 1
  • 2009–11: Manned test flights
  • 2011–12: Further test flights through Europe and North Africa
  • 2011–13: Construction of second prototype (HB-SIB; Solar Impulse 2)
  • 2013: Continental flight across the US by Solar Impulse 1 (Mission Across America)
  • 2014: First flight of Solar Impulse 2
  • 2015: Circumnavigation by Solar Impulse 2, conducted in twelve stages over five months

ROUTE:

I think the route is extremely difficult.  Only the very best calculations minimizing the risks involved would allow for such an adventure.  Please keep in mind, this legs were all accomplished on solar energy—solar energy alone.

ROUTE

COMMENTS:

I think this is an amazing engineering feat—absolutely amazing. I’m not sure at all if it proves solar energy is a viable alternative for air travel, especially when you consider modern-day air travel.  Think of all the critical systems on a modern airliner.  Many of those systems have redundentcy that allows for failure with almost instantaneous backup to eliminate cessation of operation.  I can’t imagine this level of development if we are considering solar power for commercial air travel.  I think this is a very bold engineering attempt and one that will probably, in the long run, provide other uses for solar energy.


The United States has longed for energy independence for years now.  The need to lessen or eliminate reliance on foreign sources for petroleum products by developing alternate fuels is now coming to fruition.  The question is: Will compressed natural gas be a future source of energy for the internal combustion engine?  Resources Magazine thinks so.  Let’s take a quick look at the assessment from Alan J. Krupnick, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, RFF’s Center for Energy and Climate Economics.

“Natural gas holds the promise of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on oil. But until recently, it was an also-ran in the sweepstakes for transforming fuel costs and transportation in the United States. The new abundance of domestically available shale gas and continuingly high gasoline and diesel prices could change that. Will these developments be enough to extend the reach of natural gas vehicles beyond buses, garbage trucks, and delivery trucks?”

I feel his conclusions indicate CNG is a very viable alternative for local delivery vans and trucks as well as “the big rigs”.  Other information substantiates his conclusion.  From this, we can see the following.

Industry Analysis

The CNG market has grown at the rate of 3.7% since 2000. The market for these products has experienced slow growth to due to: 1.) availability of the products, 2.) heat build-up during the compression process, 3.) time delays in the refilling process and 4.) the expense of locating CNG at the market locations. The areas of greatest growth in the CNG market are in the area of transporters that possess fleets (Tractor Trailers), Straight Trucks, and Public Transportation such as school and/or city buses. California and Texas lead the way with CNG fueling stations on a national level. There are approximately 1,300 CNG fueling stations in the US today; however, 730 are public stations with the remainder private fleet stations. There are currently less than 10 public CNG filling stations within the Tri-State area of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Southeast Tennessee currently has no CNG fueling stations. The industry is rapidly changing as the 2014 EPA NHTSA Heavy Duty Truck Program has been put in place by president Obama. This legislation has forced fleet and fuel managers to reduce emissions as well as increase fuel efficiency. Small savings have been made by reducing drag, adequate tire pressure, and reduced idling practices. CNG is a “game changing” modification that addresses the new standards that are currently in place as well as future reductions that are scheduled for 2018. We will adopt a customer centric approach that addresses the needs of the immediate market based on available original equipment and after market manufacturers. Some industry pundits have estimated CNG will realize 25% annual growth for the next 5 to 10 years on a conservative level.

Market Segment

Key points in defining the market segment for CNG are existing markets and projected future markets. Electric power and industrial markets make up almost 60% of the current consumer market. Existing markets include the fields of Agriculture, Industrial, and Motor Fuel in a static environment. Projected markets include opportunities in a more mobile environment. Transportation appears to be the most likely segment to grow as it makes up less than 1% of total natural gas used. Currently, the market is distributed with limited, if any, diversity of participants. Trending for share gains and losses typically represents large potential for gains across the entire industry. Share losses are predominantly absorbed by the diesel fuel and propane distributors, as recent supply shortages have clearly proven in the motor fuel and poultry industries. Market share will be lost by the above mentioned industries due to loss of confidence by the respective customer bases. The current and projected trends in the motor fuel industry are now driven by the Tier II Fuel Initiative causing off road diesel fuel to be banned in the near future. The result of the ban will continue to be increases in motor fuel pricing. As motor fuel costs increase, CNG becomes not only the clean alternative fuel replacement, but also the affordable alternative. CNG cuts the cost of a diesel equivalent gallon by as much as 50% based on the volatile and often fluctuating diesel market. Also, CNG is a much more effective fuel in cold weather areas as opposed to diesel and the multiple problems which exist.

The implied trends in the propane and agricultural industries currently indicate an extended, long-term propane supply shortage. The result is that CNG becomes the efficient, clean energy solution by cutting propane costs by 25 to 50%. Users of CNG are looking for quality and productivity improvements. The history of CNG development has resulted in the need for creative technology solutions that enable the full application of the CNG Natural Gas Industry. Recent patenting and innovation that Cielo has identified allows CAF to operate more efficiently than diesel or propane. The stability of this market segment is solid, based on CNG product category performance over the past two years. The forecasters predict an exponential growth over the next two years.

CNG STATION:

With this in mind, Cielo Technologies, LLC has entered into a partnership to “sink” one CNG station in the Chattanooga area.  Land has been purchased, layouts determined, zoning completed, and site preparation underway.  Right now, the area selected does not look like much.  The following JPEGs will illustrate that fact.  I intend to give you progress reports as we erect the facility and hopefully in five months, show you the completed and operating compound.  Let’s take a very quick look at the site itself.

ENTERANCE DRIVE

The first digital shows the proposed entry to the station itself.  As I mentioned, not much to look at and definitely needs considerable attention—that attention is on the way.

EXIT DRIVE

This is the proposed exit from the facility.  We feel less confusion will be the order of the day if we have one way in and one way out.

GROUND SITE

There will be three (3) pumping stations installed on a concrete island located left to right on the JPEG above.  Room enough for three “18 wheelers”.

LOCATION OF PUMPING STATION(2)

Another look at the pumping station locations.  The CNG compressors and storage will be to the right of the pumping stations.  All piping will be underground and unexposed to the elements.  We opted to go hard-wire instead of Wi-Fi due to possible interruption of service.

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