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Six Simple Steps for Choosing a Rapid Identity Solution (Rapid ID)

Every day law enforcement, border control and other agencies use official documents to confirm a person’s identity. But what happens when the person they encounter doesn’t possess an acceptable document, or when the document they do have doesn’t appear to be genuine? In today’s world, it’s increasingly important to know the real identity of a person to determine if they are a threat.

Rapid ID solutions are mobile, use biometrics and can be deployed in the field of operation affording officers the ability to quickly check to see if a person is known or wanted for criminal activity. By using biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint and/or photo, the person’s identity can be quickly checked against a database and a response received indicating if any action needs to be taken.

When evaluating which Rapid ID solution to deploy, consider the following key factors and ask these questions:

1. Leverage the devices and management systems you already have in place.

Consider how the Rapid ID solution will leverage your existing device infrastructure. Rapid ID solutions consist of both hardware and software. By using devices you already have in place, you can cut costs and enable a wider deployment. The most cost-effective solutions will use your existing devices (such as phones) and device management software to add additional functionality without requiring you to add expensive new devices or use proprietary operating software that precludes deploying OS and security updates.


  • Can the solution be deployed on the mobile devices I already have in use?
  • Will it run on my current operating system and support my IT department’s security requirements?
  • What types of device management software are supported?

2. Determine how you will receive identity confirmations.

Any Rapid ID solution requires an identity database. Law enforcement, border control and other government organizations all have identity systems that are sourced for various missions and provide services for Automated Fingerprint/Biometric Identification Systems (AFIS/ABIS). These AFIS/ABIS systems may support one or more types of biometric modalities (such as fingerprint, face or iris). Rapid ID solutions require those databases in order to return a response to identity queries.


  • What is required for performing a Rapid ID transaction?
  • Is the Rapid ID solution certified for use with the ABIS?
  • What types of biometric modalities does my ABIS support?

3. Consider how the solution will be used in the field.

When examining Rapid ID solutions, you’ll need to think about your end-users and how and where they will be performing identity activities. These answers will tell you what types of mobile devices are required, and what type(s) of biometric collection devices will be the most effective.


  • Will your end-users be identifying subjects in varying weather conditions, temperature ranges and lighting levels?
  • Do you need a solution that can easily move with your people to collect a subject’s biometrics?
  • How much water resistance is required?
  • How durable will the devices need to be?

4. Calculate the real costs.

When deploying a Rapid ID solution, consider additional costs beyond the initial purchase of the hardware and software. These additional outlays affect the overall budget necessary for the solution and are a determining factor in how many units can be rolled out. Beyond the up-front purchases, remember to leave room in your budget for unexpected items, such as replacing a broken device. Devices that are easy to replace at a low price tag are desirable.


  • What are the fixed expenses for the solution?
  • What will the maintenance budget be?
  • What are network data costs?
  • Do I have to replace any existing hardware with this solution?

4. Put user experience first.

The most successful applications are easy-to-use, intuitive and meet expectations. The same rules apply when determining a Rapid ID solution and is particularly important when considering the capture of biometrics. The user experience is key to making the process of capturing the biometric(s) a success. A good solution will tell an end-user what to do, but a great solution will guide the end-user to complete the job successfully and rapidly.


  • Does the software make it easy to take a mugshot?
  • Does it ensure that the image is of sufficient size and quality to be used by the ABIS for identification?
  • Does a fingerprint capture device have visual and haptic indicators so that you know the image has been collected?

5. Anticipate trends and consider them in the decision-making process.

Lastly, consider the technology refresh cycle. While predicting the future may be a fool’s errand, there are some general trends that we can expect. Mobile devices are typically replaced every 2-3 years. Be aware of relevant trends and data that will impact your solution. By asking the right questions in the beginning you will ensure the maximum lifespan and value for your program.


  • If I replace the mobile device, do I need to replace the biometric collection devices as well?
  • Is my vendor committed to supporting the latest mobile hardware and software?
  • Are the devices connected via industry-standard protocols and connections such as USB, WiFi and Bluetooth?

6. Choose the right solution.

As decision time nears, take a final big-picture look at how your organization will harvest the maximum benefit from the deployment of a Rapid ID solution.

Start by considering how the solution will be used. This will help you determine what your requirements are for the hardware, software and services. Next, look at the costs to confirm that they fit your budget. Your requirements may guide you to a more expensive solution or may open up opportunities to find less expensive options with tradeoffs based on replacement costs.

And finally, be sure to include your end-users in the selection process. Their buy-in on the solution you choose will ensure your Rapid ID program’s success. After all, if your end-users don’t like what you give them to do their job with, they’ll find other ways to do it.

Learn more about how rapid ID solutions can optimize the security of your organization in the white paper, Biometrics Best Practices.