The Defense Department wants to make major improvements to its biometric surveillance capabilities, starting with moving its databases and entire operational system to a cloud environment hosted by Amazon Web Services.
The current Automated Biometric Identification System, or ABIS, environment is split between DOD-owned, on-premise systems and AWS-hosted cloud backups. As part of a new pending solicitation, DOD plans to move the main operational environments to the cloud and begin a set of major capability improvements.
A request for information posted Tuesday to beta.SAM.gov outlines the department’s plans for Biometric Enabling Capability Increment 1, the second phase of a program that got its start in 2007 with Increment 0, which resulted in the launch of ABIS v1.2 in 2014. Since that time, the program has upgraded ABIS to version 1.3 and established plans to expand the system with new capabilities and a cloud architecture that enables global access.
The system contains biometric identifiers—including face, fingerprint, iris and others—on more than 18 million people, most of whom are identified enemy combatants.
“DoD ABIS provides 24/7 operational support enabling time-sensitive missions requiring on-demand biometric identification and identity verification of known and/or suspected threat actors worldwide in support of Joint-All-Domain-Operations and Homeland Defense,” according to the draft performance work statement.
The system is set up to provide biometric authentication and identification to troops throughout the world and connect with databases managed by other federal agencies—such as the Homeland Security Department and FBI—as well as international partners. ABIS is built on common standards used by the Army and the rest of the Defense Department, as well as “industry standards for system development and operational procedures.”
The current system is comprised of five separate working environments, including on-premise operational and development environments, operational and disaster testing environments and a “fully functional” cloud-based backup operational environment hosted in an AWS cloud.