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Robert P. Jackson, P.E.

Course Outline

This course will examine in detail the subject of Biometric Technology including each of the fourteen (14) modes used today.     We will examine the history of biometrics from inception to technology existing at the present time.  We will discuss the course in a logical fashion moving through each section as follows:



This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

From this six (6) hour course, the attendees should understand and be able to recognize the following points:

Intended Audience

Like most technologies, Biometrics has evolved over the decades with significant refinements to software and hardware occurring each year.  Each year seems to bring a new possibility for application to existing problems.  With those applications comes the need for federal and international standards governing the suitability for use.  With this in mind, the following professions would greatly benefit from this course.

Benefit to Attendees

This six (6) hour course is intended to provide necessary information so participants will gain an understanding of the technology and its use.  We go considerably further than the basics, thereby making it possible to gain knowledge facilitating informed conversations with vendors, hardware specialists and IT personnel within the profession.   Biometrics is a rapidly growing technology with developments each year that greatly improve software and hardware needed for accurate identification.  Also, each year brings additional uses for Biometric technology with hopes of lessening or even eliminating theft and fraud.  In addition to the text, a complete glossary of terms will be provided to facilitate understanding of the vocabulary used on a day-to-day basis.  The references provided will serve as material for further reading and knowledge.

Course Introduction

Biometrics may be a fairly new term to some individuals so it is entirely appropriate at this time to define the technology.  This will lay the groundwork for the discussion to follow.  According to the International Biometric Society:

“Biometrics is used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition.”

The terms “Biometrics” and “Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.   (Statistical and mathematical are the operative words here.)

From the Free Dictionary we see the following definition: 

Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Biometric identifiers are often categorized as physiological versus behavioral characteristics.  Physiological characteristics are related to the shape of the body.  Examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins and odor/scent.  Behavioral characteristics are related to the pattern of behavior of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice.  Some researchers have coined the term behaviometrics to describe the latter class of biometrics.

More traditional means of access control include token-based identification systems, such as a driver's license or passport, and knowledge-based identification systems, such as a password or personal identification number.  Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than token and knowledge-based methods; however, the collection of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information.
The oldest biometric identifier is facial recognition. The dimensions, proportions and physical attributes of a person's face are unique and occur very early in infants.   A child will (obviously) recognize a parent, a brother or sister.  It is only since the advent of computers and accompanying software that the ability to quantify facial features has become possible.

The FBI has long been a leader in biometrics and has used various forms of biometric identification since the very earliest day.  This Federal institution assumed responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924.  As you know, fingerprints vary from person to person (even identical twins have different prints) and don’t change over time. As a result, they are an effective way of identifying fugitives and helping to prove both guilt and innocence.
We will discuss fingerprints, as well as other modes of identification, later on in this course.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file:


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Course Summary

As you well know, digital usage and digital access allows for identity theft, fraud, theft of intellectual property, and downright theft from bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards, etc.  This has become rampant in our society.  We hear of “hack attacks” every day with millions of Social Security numbers being compromised.  I fear that what we hear is only the “tip of the iceberg” and there are many more instances of identity theft.  Biometric technology is one possible solution to this horrible problem.

Also, there are areas within certain establishments that must be and remain secure. Entry and exit of personnel must be accounted for if safety and security are to be maintained.  Nuclear power plants, DoD installations, NATO facilities, CDC laboratories, areas where inventory of illegal drug  are seized, healthcare pharmaceutical storage areas, storage of weapons, assembly areas where weapons are produced, etc. all need protection from unlawful entry.  The “street value” of certain drugs is in the millions and the possibility of theft must be avoided.  Biometric technology is one possible solution to these problems.

Companies and institutions are beginning to realize that simple PIN numbers are no longer adequate when high security is required.  In the best of situations, PIN numbers and passwords need to be changed every three (3) months to avoid issues with security.  Some companies demand eighteen digit PIN numbers for entry.  This is time consuming and tremendously cumbersome for users.  A better system is needed.

In this course, we will discuss fourteen (14) biometric modes and how those may be applied to gain access to areas of interest and access to sensitive information.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.