Identification vs. Verification

Biometric technologies are used for either one of two purposes, identification or verification, and the selection and implementation of the technology and related procedures are closely tied to this objective. Technologies vary in their capabilities and effectiveness in addressing these purposes.

  1. Identification (1:many, 1:n) : identifying an individual based upon comparison of biometrics collected against a database of previously collected samples. Essentially, technologies which are implemented for the purpose of identification will answer the question: “WHO AM I?” Typically, systems established to perform identification are large, include substantial databases of previously collected information, are costly to deploy, and demand processing time to find a match within the database. These types of systems include those used by law enforcement personnel around the globe who maintain large databases of fingerprints or facial images.
  2. Verification (1:1): verifying that an individual is the person that they claim to be, based upon validating a sample collected against a previously collected biometric sample for the individual. When biometric are implemented for verification purposes, they will answer the question: “AM I WHO I SAY I AM?”

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