From the FBI:
You’re seen it before in spy movies—someone gains access to a secret room through a thumbprint or eye scan.
It’s not just fiction anymore. Systems like this now exist in both the private and public sectors. They’re based on what’s called “biometrics”—measurable behavioral and biological (anatomical as well as physiological) characteristics that can be used for recognition.
Over the years, biometrics has been incredibly useful to the FBI and its partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities—not only to authenticate an individual’s identity (you are who you say you are), but more importantly, to figure out who someone is (by a fingerprint left on a murder weapon or a bomb, for example), typically by scanning a database of records for a match.
With more and more biometric technologies being developed, we felt it was time to take the next step—to launch a coordinated effort to harness the benefits of these capabilities for law enforcement and national security purposes. That’s why, in late 2007, we established the Biometric Center of Excellence (BCOE), located at and managed by our Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia.
Hat-tip, Doug Hanchard, ZDnet.