US aims to turn first responder smartphones into ID validation devices

New project that will help speed emergency and disaster response efforts by streamlining the process of validating the ID credentials of first responders by using their smartphones

US aims to turn first responder smartphones into ID validation devices

A new US identity access management research project is to develop smartphone technology that will enable emergency first responders' identities and credentials to be instantly and safely verified onsite. The aim is to help speed up natural and man-made disaster response efforts.

The project is called Mobile Device and Attribute Validation (MDAV) and is a joint effort between Kantara Initiative, which provides strategic vision and real-world innovation elements for the digital identity transformation, and the Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA).

CCICADA is a US Department of Homeland Security University Center of Excellence that uses advanced data analysis and systems to address natural and manmade threats to the safety and security of the American people. The MDAV project is the first effort of its kind and aims to speed disaster response efforts, resulting in the potential to save more lives and property.

"Emergency responders can lose valuable time verifying their credentials using badges and other forms of identification when arriving and checking in at the site of a natural or manmade disaster," said Dr. Fred Roberts, director, CCICADA.

"MDAV will save valuable time – and possibly lives – by enabling a first responder's smartphone to send encrypted information about their credentials to a smartphone used by local authorities managing the response operation. Instant verification of credentials will get first responders on the job faster."

The identity access management system includes software that allows local authorities to access a certificate authority database containing certificate information supplied by agencies sending emergency responders to a disaster site. Responders' smartphones will hold their credentials or attributes.

Once securely verified, local authorities would be assured of who was onsite and their expertise. Today, first responders present their badges or other forms of ID to check-in with local authorities in a disaster situation. This is a time-consuming process and doesn't truly verify who the individual is, the agency represented or the first responder's expertise.

"Time is of the essence in emergency situations and that means getting the right resources to the right place quickly and efficiently," said Colin Wallis, executive director, Kantara Initiative.

"The MDAV project aims to harness the functionality of the common smartphone combined with advanced cryptography to transform smartphones into secure identification validation devices. It is a vivid example of how Kantara is working to build trusted and secure identity ecosystems."

The MDAV project is expected to be rolled out in three phases beginning with the development of a concept paper and technology design. Next, a government agency or private company will beta test the technology.

Finally, the software will be field tested. It is estimated this project will be completed by the end of next year (2017). Lockstep Technologies will be the primary developer of the MDAV technology.

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