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The Security Industry Association (SIA) and SecureIDNews have selected five distinguished biometrics and security experts as the 2020 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards – a globally recognised program co-founded by SIA and SecureIDNews and co-presented with sponsors IDEMIA, Biometric Update and the SIA Women in Security Forum.

The honourees will be recognised during the 2020 SIA GovSummit, SIA’s annual government security conference, which will be hosted as a free virtual event June 1-4. On June 3 at 1 p.m. EDT, attendees will enjoy a special keynote panel session honouring the award winners – The Women in Biometrics Awards Presents the Future of Biometrics in Government Security Applications.

Biometric exit solutions

The Women in Biometrics Awards honour the efforts of top female experts helping drive the biometric identity and security industry. Nominees and past winners include those working for biometric companies, peripheral suppliers, system integrators, academia, government and security and IT departments at a variety of organisations in the United States and internationally.

The 2020 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards are:

  • Jeni Best, Branch Chief, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Jeni Best has extensive programme management experience running large-scale programmes and working with external stakeholders, exemplified in her work on CBP’s Biometric Exit Program as well as in developing and implementing Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control. Leading the CBP charge in implementing biometrics at airport touchpoints, Best has operationalised CBP biometric exit solutions at 27 U.S. airports and 2 international locations.

Biometric mandate

For much of 2019, she served as the acting director of biometric air exit operations at CBP

Best contributed to the development of CBP’s exit roll-out strategy, which leverages stakeholder engagement and partnerships to achieve CBP’s biometric mandate. For much of 2019, she served as the acting director of biometric air exit operations at CBP – often referred to as “biometric boarding.” Best has over 20 years of experience with CBP and its predecessor agencies working on issues related to immigration, travel and tourism, business transformation initiatives and biometrics.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University.

Records management systems

  • Anne May, Biometric Support Centre Lead, Identity Operations Division, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Anne May has 25 years of programme management experience in the public sector, including 17 years of experience with biometric technologies. She began her government career with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), where she was the programme manager for large-scale records management systems and also served as biometrics portfolio manager, overseeing budget and system business operations for the INS biometrics programme.

Specialised biometric hardware

Anne has excelled in her leadership and dedication filling multiple critical roles as an irreplaceable subject matter expert

May has worked at US-VISIT since its inception in 2003, managing the implementation of multi-year, multi-agency projects and responsible for the deployment of specialised biometric hardware to over 550 border patrol and immigration enforcement field sites. After over a decade of service to the OBIM, Anne has excelled in her leadership and dedication filling multiple critical roles as an irreplaceable subject matter expert in the field of biometrics.

Anne is the lead manager for the DHS 24/7 Biometric Support Centre, an integral piece of the identity mission for worldwide U.S. government missions. She has also applied her expertise in support of building the next-generation DHS biometric system, Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology.

Face recognition evaluation

  • Mei Ngan, Computer Scientist, Image Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Mei Ngan is a scientist in the NIST Image Group, which develops standards, measurement methods and best practices for biometric technologies, promoting accuracy and interoperability and the gold standard for biometric testing and evaluation worldwide.

She is an accomplished computer scientist who has produced creative and outstanding work in the fields of face morphing detection, tattoo recognition and face recognition evaluation providing the needed science and framework to underpin the successful measurement and assessment of technologies for operational viability.

Face morphing detection

Ngan led the NIST project supporting the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Janus programme

Ngan is the project lead for the NIST Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) MORPH programme – an ongoing project focused on evaluation of automated face morphing detection capabilities – and has become an integral part of the FRVT activities at NIST. In 2014, she launched the Tattoo Recognition Technology Program, the first NIST programme to provide a measurement and testing foundation to support the operational needs and applications for image-based tattoo recognition.

Ngan has also led the NIST project supporting the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Janus programme, targeting the development of advanced face recognition algorithms for unconstrained images.

Terrorism detection capabilities

  • Lauren Reed, Senior Program Director for Biometric Forensics, IDEMIA National Security Solutions (NSS)

In her role at IDEMIA NSS, Lauren Reed leads the deployment of large-scale multimodal biometric systems to U.S. government foreign partners, enabling them to advance their crime and terrorism detection capabilities.

She has been working in biometrics and forensics for more than 20 years; prior to joining IDEMIA NSS, she was the first woman to serve as director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory at the Defence Forensic Science Centre, which provides forensic and biometric laboratory services in seven scientific disciplines to the military criminal investigative agencies of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) globally.

Multi-modal biometric examination

She was instrumental in standing up multi-modal biometric examination operations for the DOD

Reed also previously served as the first chief of the Biometric Examination Services Branch for the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where she was instrumental in standing up multi-modal biometric examination operations for the DOD’s Automated Biometric Identification System with expansion of services to include face and iris in addition to fingerprints.

In 2012, she received the FBI Director’s Award for Exceptional Public Service for leading a latent print sharing initiative between the DOD, FBI and DHS resulting in more than 500 identifications associated with terrorist and national security cases. Reed holds a Bachelor of Science from Washington State University, a Master of Forensic Science from National University and an executive MBA degree from Kennesaw State University.

Seamless airport implementation

  • Annet Steenbergen, Co-Founder, Aruba Happy Flow Project

Annet Steenbergen is a visionary Dutch national who is well respected in the U.S. and internationally as the co-founder/initiator of the Aruba Happy Flow project for the government of Aruba, the first seamless airport implementation of its kind in the world, a single-token initiative that creates a seamless flow of passenger facilitation from curb to gate through the reuse of biometrics and advanced cooperation between the public and the private sector.

Steenbergen took stakeholder cooperation to a new level between the governments of Aruba and the Netherlands, KLM Airlines, the Aruba Airport Authority and the biometric vendor to provide biometric-based security while substantially enhancing the passenger experience and creating room for expansion of Happy Flow to other airlines and countries.

Seamless travel solutions

She holds a master’s degree from Leiden University and has also studied at University College London

She has more than 20 years of international experience working in the field of border control, border management and public-private cooperation at airports, previously holding roles with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service at Schipol Airport and at headquarters in the policy department for border management.

Besides her work for the government of Aruba, Steenbergen is a consultant on passenger facilitation innovation with a strong focus on seamless travel solutions, where biometrics are used as a baseline for facilitation, security and GDPR-compliant privacy, or “privacy by design.” She holds a master’s degree from Leiden University and has also studied at University College London, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Enhancing cutting-edge fields

“Each year, the Women in Biometrics Awards recognise the best and brightest talent helping to advance biometrics technologies, which are essential to securing identities today, and the achievements of these female industry leaders are improving processes like air travel, enhancing cutting-edge fields like facial recognition and working to keep people safe,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson.

“SIA applauds the 2020 honourees for their impressive dedication, innovation and leadership in this critical technology market and looks forward to honouring this outstanding group during SIA GovSummit.”

Private industry technologists

The 2020 class of Women in Biometrics Award winners astound me with their contributions to the security industry"

“Once again, the 2020 class of Women in Biometrics Award winners astound me with their contributions to the security industry and society in general,” said Chris Corum, editor and publisher, SecureIDNews. “Their collective work keeps international borders secure, fights terrorism, aids law enforcement and makes our daily lives safer and more convenient.”

SIA GovSummit – the annual government security conference hosted by SIA – brings together government security experts and private industry technologists for top-quality information sharing and education on security topics affecting federal, state and even local agencies.

Facial recognition technology

Attendees will hear keynote presentations from Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.); Brian Harrell, Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security at DHS’ Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); Daryle Hernandez, Chief of the Interagency Security Committee within DHS CISA; and Kathleen McGuiness, Auditor of Accounts for the State of Delaware. Additionally, GovSummit 2020 will feature specialised sessions on cutting-edge topics such as emerging applications of facial recognition technology, trends in federal procurement of security products and services, drones and counter-UAS technology, fever detection and camera technology in pandemic recovery and using robotics in security operations.

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