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Lockheed Martin

In The Boardroom With...

Mr. John Mears
Senior Fellow

Information Technology & Security SolutionsLockheed Martin IS&GS Civil Thank you for joining us today, John, it’s an honor to speak with a Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin.
Before discussing IDHaystack™ in greater detail, please tell us about your background and may we have an overview of the Lockheed Martin Fellows program?

John Mears:  Thank you for the opportunity to address today. I’ve enjoyed working at Lockheed Martin for almost 12 years now. I’m a Gator from the University of Florida where I graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. I began my career at IBM’s Federal Systems Division, one of the predecessor companies for my Lockheed Martin division. While at IBM, I had the privilege of working on projects like the Ground Control Segment of the Global Positioning System, or GPS, where I was a lead tracking station engineer. Here at Lockheed Martin, I’ve worked in strategy, business development, technology planning and independent research and development. I served as director of Biometrics and Identity Management prior to my Senior Fellow appointment three years ago. 

Being inducted into the Lockheed Martin Fellows program is an honor, and is one way our company recognizes, retains and encourages top technical leadership. Appointments are for multi-year periods, and are renewable, but not guaranteed. Up to 10 senior level internal and external recommendation letters are required, and a rigorous set of selection criteria are applied against a comprehensive application document. Two levels exist, Fellows and Senior Fellows, and we all have very diverse sets of expertise. My expertise is biometrics, identity management and forensics. Lockheed Martin’s brand recognition is certainly second to none. Some of our readers, however, may not be familiar with Lockheed Martin’s incredible track record and experience in the biometrics space going all the way back to NGI (Next Generation Identification) and IAFIS (the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System).  Please tell us more about Lockheed Martin’s expertise in this market.

John Mears:  That’s right, we’ve been in biometrics, identity management and forensics for about 20 years now. Whether it is large-scale systems integration, design and development of advanced products or technical evaluations, we have played an active role in programs that are critical to the safety of citizens, the facilitation of commerce and the security of nations. I think you can best categorize our work during this time along two dimensions – assured delivery of major identification programs, and innovative research and development in biometrics and forensics. 

In terms of programs, as you mentioned, in the late 1990s we developed and delivered the original IAFIS system to the FBI. It went live in 1999, and performed well and in excess of its original design parameters for 15 years – until September of 2014, in fact – when it was decommissioned because NGI achieved full operational capability and took over. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved in partnership with the FBI. In fact, NGI was the largest IT development program in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice. It goes well beyond IAFIS capabilities to include enhanced fingerprint accuracy; latents and palm prints; mug shots and photographs; searchable textual descriptions of scars, marks and tattoos; and an iris pilot. It includes process enhancements too, with mobile searches against the Repository of Individuals of Special Concern, or RISC, in less than 10 seconds, and updates to criminal records after initial enrollment through the Rap Back Service. I also think it is also important to note that we delivered the NGI capability on-time, on-budget and on-function – a very significant accomplishment in the world of national-scale biometric systems.   

In terms of research and development, we did some of the early work on mobile fingerprint capture and matching. We’ve done leading-edge work on multi-modal biometric fusion algorithms for fingerprints, faces and irises.  We adapted LADAR systems for very accurate and eye-safe stand-off 3D face capture and recognition. We were pioneers in rapid DNA identification technology, creating intellectual property at the cutting-edge of this emerging technology. We’ve done innovative work on an electronic nose using DNA-based receptors and nano-manufacturing techniques. We’ve done research on using next-generation genomic analysis techniques to advance the future of DNA-based identification for biometric purposes. We have also developed an imaging system to visualize latent prints on multiple surface types in real time and without altering or touching the prints. It has been very exciting and satisfying for me to be associated with these innovative projects and the very talented people working them across the corporation. 

For a couple of years now, we’ve been advancing the highly desirable capability to offer identification as a service, something we generically call ID as a Service, or IDaaS. Our IDaaS offering is branded IDHaystack™.  This is an homage to retired General Keith Alexander, who famously said, “If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, the first thing you need is a haystack!” We understand that IDHaystack™ is a multi-modal biometric identification application hosted on the SolaS™ secure Government community cloud and that within the emerging Software as a Service (SaaS) market, IDHaystack™ provides identification as a Service (IDaaS). Please give us an overview of IDHaystack™ and its evolution.

John Mears:  The idea behind IDHaystack™ is to make identification and verification services more accessible and evergreen within a secure Government community cloud construct. We were thinking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to offer an advanced multi-modal biometric system in a way accessible to many different Government customers without their having to expend significant capital to get it?” We wanted to create an evergreen biometrics engine that could support an open framework in which customers’ existing unique workflows, rules, interfaces and user requirements could be accommodated as they exist or built separately to suit them. We tested these tenets with customers around the world and got positive affirmation that this is what they wanted going forward.    
Let me elaborate on why this idea is revolutionary. To your point, we were trying to realize the advantages that the Software as a Service market is providing to its customers, but for biometric systems. That is, the possibility for subscription or consumption-based billing.  Evergreen computing fabric through use of cloud computing. The ability to grow or surge to meet transient demands. The flexibility to accommodate additional biometric modalities or to incorporate new or improved algorithms without having to redevelop the whole system. The tools for rapid ingest of legacy data or quick interfacing to other legacy systems.

It is also important that the system work with whatever biometric algorithm is needed for the intended use. In addition to finger, face, and iris, will a customer want to incorporate voice or even DNA as modalities in their IDHaystack™? We should be able to give them what they want, and have the tools to convert old or ingest new data as easily and seamlessly as possible. Algorithm agnosticism and evergreen computing are key to future-proofing and the accomplishment of mission needs under continuing budgetary pressures.  We read with great interest the recent announcement regarding ImageWare Systems (OTCQB: IWSY) under which ImageWare will integrate its patented Biometric Engine® into the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) IDHaystack™ Identity as a Service (IDaaS) Platform. Please tell us more about this collaboration and why ImageWare?

John Mears:  In short,  Imageware had commercially developed some key components of our vision for IDHaystack™, and had already integrated with many of the top biometric algorithm providers. By licensing from Imageware, we could make progress more quickly and save our precious research and development money for components that incorporate discriminating Lockheed Martin technology. Since there was little overlap between the components Imageware could provide and the markets they address versus what we could provide and address, it seemed like a good point of departure for a collaboration. What is your perspective John on some of the major applications for IDHaystack™…are Border Security, Immigration and Mobility in the mix here?

John Mears:  Certainly, and those are three good use cases to consider, among many others. For example, as countries around the world deal with the pressures of migration and immigration, border security is coming to the forefront as an important driver of biometric identification systems.  In the U.S., as an example, we have a biometric entry system, but not a biometric exit system.  DHS OBIM and CBP with DHS S&T are stepping up to the challenge of making entry and exit processing both more secure through biometrics, as well as more friendly to the travelers to our country, while pragmatically addressing the costs.  Applications like IDHaystack™ could provide some answers to the challenges those agencies face. We’ve all seen the trend on the part of mobile device vendors toward incorporating biometrics for device authentication. The objective isn’t that different from the border security objectives. Make our lives more secure while providing convenience and flow. For example, as our first responders move toward the adoption of smart phone-based mobile devices to do their critical work, they will have to authenticate themselves securely and conveniently for device access on a nationwide basis. Cloud-based authentication services such as those offered by IDHaystack™ could facilitate this vision.  Are there any success stories use cases you’d like to talk about?

John Mears:   Although I can’t discuss specific customer implementations, let me give you an example of how IDHaystackTM is typically used at this stage. In this use case, the customer is using IDHaystack™ to determine if they’ve seen a person before. If the person has been seen before, they can do a verification on their next encounter.  If not, the person is enrolled as a new subject. In this use case, the customer already has their own user interface and workflow engine, and they are calling IDHaystack™ as a biometric service to do the matching or enrollment as required. The customer likes this offering because of the flexibility and ease of incorporation into their application, as well as the ability to buy only what’s needed as a service.  In today’s IoT environment, and we could not agree more with Lockheed Martin on this point, a “…person’s unique identity is their best protection “. Care to elaborate for us on this point?

John Mears:   Ah, you are quoting from our website. I don’t think we are the only ones who believe this, however. Many of our Government customers have been expanding the uses of their Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards for application access to include multiple authentication factors. The idea is to provide more secure access to data that is sensitive to all of us. In fact, if you look at the NIST publication called FIPS-201, they talk about levels of security with varying factors of authentication. Lowest levels of security are with the commonly used IDs and passwords. The highest levels are achieved with three-factor authentication including biometrics. These multiple factors including biometrics help assure that it really is uniquely me when I log on and gain access to sensitive data. This protects not only me, but all of us who have a stake in using, but also protecting, sensitive data. What resources are available for the authentication and ID community at ?

John Mears: Information about Lockheed Martin biometrics is available on our website. It includes a list of articles describing our work over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our work in support of this important community. Thanks again for joining us today, John. Are there any other subjects you would like to discuss?

John Mears: We’ve largely focused today on applications for law enforcement, homeland security, data security and mobility, which are great applications for our technology. There are military and international applications as well. We are fortunate in our industry to live in a time of growth across a number of customer types and industries. Thank you, for the opportunity to speak to you today.