What is your role in the federal identity community?
I am the Senior Communication Advisor for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) biometric Entry/Exit program and advise senior CBP leadership on communication strategies and outreach related to the expansion of facial biometrics and travel innovation. In this role, my core responsibilities include addressing press inquiries and developing media opportunities for CBP leadership to ensure the press receives accurate information from CBP on our use of facial biometrics in travel; managing stakeholder engagement to strengthen CBP’s relationships with external government and industry partners and engaging with a variety of key audiences to ensure that they are informed about CBP’s travel innovation programs; developing and reviewing a range of outreach products such as Press Releases, newsletter articles, and social media content to highlight the benefits of facial biometrics and innovation; and providing tours for stakeholders to see CBP’s facial biometric operations in action.
As part of CBP’s outreach efforts, I also manage CBP’s participation in several domestic and international stakeholder meetings and events like Fed ID each year. This includes securing speaking opportunities for CBP leadership to share biometric Entry/Exit updates and engaging with key audiences from a variety of industries, including travel and tourism; air and cruise travel; biometrics and technology; security and law enforcement community; and international partners. Overall, my role requires ongoing collaboration and engagement within CBP, across DHS and the federal government, and with a wide range of industry stakeholders to inform and stay informed on the latest advancements within the identity community.
How does FedID help you succeed?
Fed ID is one of the best events to engage with government, industry, and academia representatives at various levels -- including senior officials, project and program managers, researchers and Subject Matter Experts -- all in one location for several days. Whether you are new to biometrics and identity management and can benefit from introductory sessions or an identity expert who has come to Fed ID for many years, this event offers many knowledge building opportunities. The agenda is designed to offer quality, well thought out sessions on key topics of interest to those who are in or who have an interest in the identity community. Given DHS components like CBP are leveraging biometric technology in a variety of applications, Fed ID is a valuable opportunity to gain and share knowledge with government, industry, and academia representatives who are also working on similar projects and programs.
What are you most looking forward to at FedID?
This year in particular, it will be great to see colleagues in person again which was not possible during the pandemic. In addition to attending the informative sessions, I am looking forward to seeing the latest technology in the Expo and participating in the fun networking opportunities built into the Fed ID program. I have attended Fed ID for many years, and this is the first time that we will be in Atlanta, so that will also add to the excitement at Fed ID this year too.
What do you believe are the essential components of programs using facial biometrics and machine learning to ensure their success given all the concerns around these technologies?
Through my communication lens, I think transparency and sharing clear information are critical success factors that are essential to any identity management program, including the use of facial biometrics. You can have high performing technology that works well for a particular application, but if you do not build acceptance from key stakeholders and public trust from the beginning, the potential pushback can delay or shutdown implementation.
Given that many people think about biometrics in the context of what they see in the movies or on tv – which at times is unrealistic – clear communication is key as “perception is reality”. By providing channels for an open dialogue with the press, public, Congress, and key stakeholders regarding identity projects and programs, it allows the government and industry the opportunity to address challenges and concerns about the use of advanced technology like facial biometrics and make adjustments as needed to ensure that there is support for a particular use case.
Given there is a lot of confusion and misinformation on the use of face recognition, and the need to address legitimate concerns like privacy and demographic differentials associated with this technology, I am working on many proactive communication opportunities in collaboration and coordination with internal colleagues and external stakeholders to educate and inform about the benefits of facial biometrics in CBP’s travel programs and highlight our strong commitment to privacy principles, data protection, and accuracy. Overall, education and outreach are critical to the success of any government or industry identity program.