Special Report on the January SC37 Meetings
04 March 2019 16:20 GMT

By Greg Cannon (Director of Standards and Biometric Technology at HIDGlobal)

One of the major aspects that shape the biometric industry are the various standards development organisations that are focused on biometrics, security, and identity. ISO/IEC JTC1 SC37 is the subcommittee at ISO responsible for biometric standards. Their most recent meeting, held in Iquique, Chile, just closed after a week of working group meetings followed by a two-day plenary. SC37, like many standard development organisations, is an open organisation where experts from several nations get together to develop and maintain biometric standards of relevance to those nations.

In SC37, standards progress from a working draft stage (WD) to a more complete committee draft stage (CD), and finally to mature draft and published international standard stages (DIS and IS). Traditionally, SC37 was focused on large scale government biometric-enabled identity programs, but as biometrics becomes more of a mainstream technology (mobile phones and enterprise authentication), SC37 is tackling these issues as well. SC37 is broken into six working groups, and there are several highlights from the recent meeting in each group.

WG1 - Vocabulary

This working group is devoted to clearly defining biometric terms, and it maintains a free publicly available standard. 2382-37:2017 is a great document for the industry, with a significant collection of biometric terms and definitions that help our community communicate about biometric technologies. In fact, it is so heavily used by the industry that ISO decided to make it freely available ( download it here ). WG1 progressed the revision of this standard to committee draft status in Chile, and we expect to see an update of the standard in 2020-2021.

WG2 - Interfaces

This working group is devoted to standardising biometric programming frameworks (BioAPI) and biometric metadata frameworks (CBEFF), as well as describing best practice system architectures and security mechanisms to protect personal biometric data.

In Chile, this working group established a new project for REST-based biometric identity assurance, issued committee drafts for comment on CBEFF part 1 (data element specification) and object-oriented BioAPI parts 2 and 3 (Java and C#). CBEFF parts 2 and 3 (for registration authority and patron format specifications) reached DIS stage. The object-oriented BioAPI C++ implementation has proceeded to publication and can be adopted for your next project soon!

WG3 - Data Formats

This working group is primarily devoted to the development of the set of modality-specific data formats (ISO/IEC 39794-x) initially published in the 2005/2006 timeframe. The standards of the 3rd generation are designed for backward and forward compatibility, utilising XSD and ASN schemas to support interoperability use cases including passports and web services. WG3 develops interchange standards for fingerprint, face, iris, sign/signature, vascular (vein), hand geometry, voice, DNA, full body image data, gait. In Chile, WG3 decided to start work on a full body personal data standard for use cases involving disaster victim identification.

In Chile, the 39794-6 iris image data standard and the 30137-4 video surveillance ground truth standard reached committee draft. The data interchange framework and finger and iris standards (39794-1, 39794-4, and 39794-5) are all now at draft international standard status.

This working group is also focused on standardising biometric quality, and has published a framework and standard for finger, face, and iris sample quality, and will likely start work on a revised face quality standard.

This group, in conjunction with WG5, also works on presentation attack detection standards. The 30107-4 standard addressing presentation attack detection evaluation for mobile devices reached DIS stage. Similar to the SC37 vocabulary standard, the 30107 series is an important document that touches on most biometric systems, and it is also freely available ( download it here ).

WG4 - Profiles

This working group produces reports on best practices and implementation requirement profiles that detail how use cases involving biometrics should utilise various industry standards. The group has recently focused on biometric enrollment, 10-print capture, video surveillance, biometrics on mobile devices, and video surveillance. The group's focus now is contactless biometrics (biometrics in motion), with a revised WD already out for comment from the Chile meeting.

WG5 - Performance Testing

This working group produces standards that describe how biometric technologies and systems should be evaluated (testing and reporting) to get the best estimate of their performance. It's a large and tricky subject, and the group considers issues such as diversity, degree of difficulty, environmental influence, habituation, user and operator influence, among other factors.

The fundamental standard of this working group is 19795-1 principles and framework. The revision of this standard reached committee draft status. The 19795-9 mobile device performance testing standard also achieved committee draft status. Finally, the group also made progress with their work on user interaction influence in biometric system performance, with the 21472 standard reaching committee draft status.

WG6 - Societal Aspects

This working group addresses standardisation in the field of cross-jurisdictional and societal aspects in the application of ISO/IEC biometrics standards. Their current program of work incorporates standards addressing biometric icons and symbols, accessibility, health and safety, biometrics and the elderly, and handling legal requirements of personal information and privacy.

The 24779 standard is a broadly useful standard, as it describes icons and symbols for biometrics in use. This multipart standard addresses finger, face, and vascular applications, and the 24779-5 standard reached draft international status.

The working group made progress on their technical reports as well. The report describing implementation aspects for biometrics and the elderly is at committee draft status.

The working group is also working on providing guidance for dealing with demographic factors (22116), major incident response (21421), and guidance for biometric commercial applications (24714). All these reports are at working draft stage.

Next meeting

As you can see, a lot is going on in the biometric standards world. Many experts from more than 20 countries work hard to develop and maintain these standards for the benefit of the biometrics industry. SC37 needs a lot more help, and if you are passionate about the future of biometric identity standards, then please get involved by working with your nation's standards organisations. The next meeting will be July 2019 in Darmstadt, Germany.

Greg Cannon is Director, Standards and Biometric Technology, responsible for the company's biometric and identity standards involvement, and develops next generation biometric algorithms for HID Global. Greg serves as the convener for ISO/IEC JTC1 SC37 WG4.