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Improving Biometric and Forensic Technology: The Future of Research Datasets


One of the biggest challenges facing the advancement of forensic science and biometric technology is the development of large data sets available for use by researchers. The lack of sufficient research data is a major limitation to research, the development of new technology, and informed policy decisions in forensic science and biometrics. The symposium will discuss needs and adequacy of existing publicly-available datasets, as input for developing a multi-agency roadmap for collection and dissemination of datasets in the future. The domains addressed will include both biometric and forensic aspects of finger/palmprints, iris, face, person at a distance, voice, and handwriting.


NIST has been actively involved in the testing and evaluation of biometric and forensic technologies starting with fingerprints in the 1960s. This involvement has expanded over the decades to include efforts in various modalities such as fingerprints, palmprints, face, iris, voice, and handwriting, including the development of a comprehensive biometric data transmission standard. NIST also provides the research community with standard reference datasets for use in the development and evaluation of automated systems as well as to foster a greater understanding features of interest related to these modalities. 

The National Institute of Justice has sponsored NIST to: 

  • Create a comprehensive catalog of publicly available biometric and forensic datasets for the following modalities: finger/palmprints, iris, face, person at a distance, voice, and handwriting; and 
  • Host a symposium to discuss the adequacy of existing publicly-available datasets and the future needs in these areas. 
  • Identify the major issues facing the collection and dissemination of biometric and forensic datasets; 
  • Discuss the adequacy of existing publicly-available datasets, and the future needs in these areas; 
  • Develop a roadmap for the development of publicly available biometric and forensic datasets Planning Team NIST Forensic Science Program & the Information Technology Laboratory.

Security Instructions:

If you are not registered, you will not be allowed on site. Registered attendees will receive security and campus instructions prior to the workshop. 

NON U.S. CITIZENS PLEASE NOTE: All foreign national visitors who do not have permanent resident status and who wish to register for the above meeting must supply additional information. Failure to provide this information prior to arrival will result, at a minimum, in significant delays (up to 24 hours) in entering the facility. Authority to gather this information is derived from United States Department of Commerce Department Administrative Order (DAO) number 207-12. When registration is open, the required NIST-1260 form will be available as well. 

*New Visitor Access Requirement: Effective July 21, 2014, Under the REAL ID Act of 2005, agencies, including NIST, can only accept a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for access to federal facilities if issued by states that are REAL ID compliant or have an extension. Click here for a list of alternative identification and further details>>


  • The Role of Research Datasets in Improving Biometric and Forensic Technology;
  • Challenges in the Collection and Use of Biometric and Forensic Datasets ;
  • Privacy and Legal Issues in the Collection, Distribution, and Use of Biometric and Forensic Datasets; 
  • NIST’s Biometric and Forensic Research Database Catalog Overview; 
  • Statistical Significance in Biometric and Forensic Datasets.

  • Mark Burge, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) 
  • JoAnn Buscalgia, FBI
  • Jeremy Dawson, West Virginia University 
  • Austin Hicklin, Noblis 
  • Anil Jain, Michigan State University 
  • Karen Kafadar, University of Virginia 
  • Brendan Klare, Noblis 
  • Rick Lazarick, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) 
  • Jonathon Phillips, NIST 
  • Christopher Saunders, South Dakota State University 
  • Stephanie Schuckers, Clarkson University 
  • Elham Tabassi, NIST 
  • Melissa Taylor, NIST 
  • Richard Vorder Bruegge, FBI 
  • Craig Watson, NIST 
  • Shannan Williams, NIST 
  • Brad Wing, NIST 
  • Patty Wolfhope, US Department of Homeland Security
Created January 7, 2015, Updated February 7, 2017