The Department of Homeland Security is moving its central biometric database — which stores biometric data on US citizens and foreign nationals — to the Amazon Web Services GovCloud, according to the website NextGov.com.
The move was described as the first step in a huge overhaul of the decades-old system.
Because of advancements in biometrics — such as iris and facial scans—and computer technology, DHS decided it was time to upgrade the Automated Biometric Identification System, known as IDENT, which was originally developed in 1994, according to the website.
The Office of Biometric Identity Management began work in 2015 on the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, or HART, system, which will have new capabilities and shift the entire system to the cloud.
The new HART system is expected to function the same as the current IDENT system, with the ability to match biometric indicators such face, iris and fingerprints to other forms of identity, including Social Security numbers and Alien Numbers.
The feds began the shift from IDENT to HART this year, including finalizing a privacy impact assessment for the first phase, which would include migrating existing data to the Amazon cloud.
The impact statement was finished and signed in February and published in May “to align with the completion of other system requirements,” a DHS spokesperson told Nextgov.
The HART system will be unveiled in four increments, each with its own timetable and privacy impact assessment to be published.
“HART Increment 1 implements a new data architecture, which includes conceptual, logical, and physical data models, a data management plan, and physical storage of records where each associated record may have multiple associated biometric modality images,” the document states.
Northrop Grumman obtained a $95 million contract to perform the work.
The privacy impact assessment details how the system will be used and by which federal agencies and partners, as well as some of the underlying biometric technologies, such as the various forms of facial recognition, the website reported.
Once the cloud migration to Amazon is complete, HART will officially become the system of record for national security biometric data.
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