BiometricsBiometrics Lab

Dakota State University believes that biometrics are the strategic solution to assuring ones identity. We have moved aggressively into the arena of biometric education and research. We intend to continue down the path of researching Biometrics and their applications for Identity Assurance and Information Assurance.

Dakota State University is recognized by both the National Security Agency (NSA) and The Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in Information Assurance.

What are Biometrics?

Biometrics are automated methods of identifying a person or verifying the identity of a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. Examples of physiological characteristics include hand or finger images, facial characteristics, and iris recognition. Behavioral characteristics are traits that are learned or acquired. Dynamic signature verification, speaker verification, and keystroke dynamics are examples of behavioral characteristics.

Biometrics Research at DSU

This research study fills the void of the lack of applied, multi-disciplinary biometric research in the United States by creating a "biometric university" to evaluate and test biometric products in the marketplace. The biometric university leverages the university campus as a real-world environment with physical, cyber, and transactional biometric security capabilities. Further, the faculty and student researchers will ultimately be able to work with organizations and governments to implement biometric solutions in a manner most likely to accomplish the objectives.

Many research questions are important to answer before the public and private sector rollout biometric solutions with inherent flaws. Technical, social, organization, and psychological issues must be addressed to gain insight into using biometric solutions to enhance trustworthiness. As Dakota State becomes the biometric university, it naturally positions itself with expert faculty, students, and users who can shape and guide the rollout of biometric solutions across the country. Several very specific, multi-disciplinary research questions will be answered as a part of this study:

  • I. What biometrics works the best in what types of settings? What are the problems and benefits of each type of biometric when applied in a real-world setting?

  • II. What is the safest, most accurate method of collecting (registering) biometric information? How is the collection of biometric information best integrated into existing company policy and procedures?

  • III. What is the most secure storage infrastructure for large-scale biometric storage?

  • IV. What processes must be established to ensure the security of the biometric infrastructure?

  • V. How does one survive and best recover from an attack to this biometric infrastructure?

  • VI. What policy, process, and procedures are necessary when applying biometrics to physical security, cyber security, and/or transactional security?

  • VII. How does an organization gain the support of its faculty, students, and employees to register their biometrics?

These are the types of multi-disciplinary research questions that can begin to be answered as researchers become immersed in applied biometric research. This research study is not simply researchers working in a biometric lab; rather, this applied biometric research study is a university commitment to serve as a national resource (equipping all of its important functions with biometrics) to begin answering many of the research questions necessary for mass adoption of biometric authentication in this country.

The majority of students and faculty at the university will participate in the study, offering a large environment and audience to study applying biometrics and overcoming technical, social, and psychological issues. The research team will work through the issues that surface to research and understand how to best operationalize this biometric infrastructure in a variety of settings. Other questions are likely to be answered because of the intense university focus over the next three years.

The biometric university is an ambitious and substantial research and education project, and serves as a model environment to address physical, cyber, and transactional security issues from a technical, social, and psychological perspective. The biometric university is an integrated environment where research is conducted to understand the interoperability of physical, cyber, and transactional security (which simulates the real-world environment that is missing in biometric research today). Students and faculty will use biometrics on doors and computers all over campus to their identity. The food service, bookstore, and library will also use biometrics to verify identity in their operations.

The goal of the project is to create the biometric university to answer today and tomorrow's applied biometric research questions, and also to evaluate biometric products in an applied yet controlled environment. In the end, Dakota State will work with biometric manufacturers to provide input into their products to ensure biometric hardware and software solutions meet a standard set of criteria before being certified for use. Dakota State will also work with businesses intending on implementing biometric solutions to consult on technical, social, and psychological issues.

In the context of this document, the researchers are defining several security genres to authenticate with biometric technologies. These genres are defined as follows.

  • Physical Security: Restricting access to a physical location such as a building or room. Access can be monitored via a logging system and reports can be drawn from this data.
  • Cyber Security: Streamlined access to the campus network through a biometrically authenticated login schema.
  • Transactional Security: Any monetary transaction which biometrically authenticates, accesses, and atomically debits or credits the user's account.


For more information about the Biometrics Research Lab or the Information Assurance programs at Dakota State University, please contact

Last Updated: 7/31/12