Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

TCWV in the News

Biometrics: An Important Part of State’s Economic Future

June 18, 2012
Crowd at Biometrics forum

Letter to the Editor, Dominion Post, June 17, 2012

By: Anne Barth, TechConnect West Virginia

As many of us in this region by now know, biometrics is the science of identifying people by physiological characteristics, such as iris, fingerprint, face and DNA, or by behavioral traits such as signature, voice and gait.  Initially used in law enforcement, biometric identifiers can now be used to verify an individual’s identity to prevent fraud and identity theft.  They are facilitating the long-awaited transition from log-on passwords to more reliable means of authentication.

Biometrics also help control access and enhance physical security.  They play important roles in supporting public safety and national security by identifying criminals or terrorists who are known to be intent on harming us or our country.  In this use and when coupled with forensic techniques, they help our military personnel identify and disrupt enemy cells on the battlefield.

What you may not know is that biometrics and West Virginia-based identity management systems and support services account for almost 4,000 jobs in north central West Virginia.  Several key

Federal government agencies base their identification operations in Marion and Harrison Counties and other parts of our state.

These agencies and their support contractors form the technological forefront of the identity industry and sponsor much of the development of advanced identification technologies. Together they form a base of intellectual capital that can help develop West Virginia as the home of commercial biometrics support companies — firms providing integration, support services, and software development.

Several initiatives are underway in West Virginia to help position our state so it can benefit additionally from continued advancements in, and greater uses of, identification systems, devices, and services.  Designed to spur the development and commercialization of identity management hardware, software, intellectual property, or other products, these initiatives will help to create new West Virginia businesses and grow high-paying jobs.

TechConnect West Virginia is an organization working to develop private-sector opportunities and applications in biometrics and associated technologies for security and identity verification purposes.   On June 20, Tech Connect will join with leaders in the biometrics industry, Federal agencies, university stakeholders and other state officials for a Biometrics Forum that will be held in Fairmont (at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center).  The forum is organized by TechConnectWV in conjunction with Computer Sciences Corporation and IMTAS. More details can be found at: www.techconnectwv.org.  Register here.