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DHS awards $2.4M in grant funding to Kantara Initiative to develop mobile identity solutions

By Steve Bittenbender
Editor, Government Security News

The Department of Homeland Security has awarded $2.4 million in grant funding to the Kantara Initiative to help in the development of three digital identity solutions.

The money, provided by DHS Science and Technology Directorate, will be used by Lockstep Technologies, Gluu and Exponent and are the first projects launched by Kantara’s Identity and Privacy Incubator Program.

The Kantara Initiative provides real-world innovation and development of specifications and conformity assessment programs for the digital identity and personal data ecosystems. The global network brings together leaders from various companies, including: CA Technologies, Digi.me, Experian, ForgeRock, Internet Society, Nomura Research Institute and SecureKey Technologies.

Kantara gets its name from the Swahili word for bridge, and that’s what the organization does: it connects industry leaders to address common concerns, according to Colin Wallis, the executive director for the initiative. Often the work led by the initiative’s members winds up in the standards framework for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other similar groups.

“That’s where industry gets together and says we’re going to work together, we’re going to collaborate to solve a particular problem,” Wallis said. “That naturally draws a very high level of expertise, and that’s the thing DHS recognized from previous engagements with Kantara.”

Wallis said the three projects selected for the grant funding are working in different aspects of identity verification and access control.

Lockstep Technologies manages a self-funded research-and-development program focusing on digital identity and privacy concerns. It has helped develop solutions to address medical records confidentiality, age verification and electronic voting.

With the DHS funding, Lockstep will work on a mobile device attribute verification (MDAV) solution. This technology could allow individuals to use their smartphones for their driver’s licenses, travel papers and electronic health records. First responders also could use the technology to carry their credentials with them at all times.

Gluu is also working on a project for first responders. Dubbed the Emergency Responder Authentication System for Mobile Users (ERASMUS), it would enable emergency management organizations across jurisdictions to share data regarding an individual responder’s skill sets and authorizations.

With ERASMUS, Wallis said, an out-of-town firefighter or police officer could offer to help with an emergency event away from their jurisdiction and have local authorities confirm their credentials quickly and easily on-site.

Exponent’s project deals with access control. Specifically, it would enable an individual to use their smartphone for their personal identity verification card. Rather than carrying a separate card, a user simply would need to present their phone in order to gain secure access to a building or secured room within a facility.

Such mobile technology would make it easier for organizations who currently deal with lost card issues or face the need to produce temporary credentials for facility visitors.

"The basis for each project is a unique re-configuration of emerging next generation standards and specifications delivered through mobile devices, like smart phones,” Wallis said. “The trend of leveraging the ubiquitous mobile device for digital identity solution continues to ramp worldwide. We are seeing a growing interest in incubator programs like KIPI."

The Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis at Rutgers University in New Jersey is also a collaborator in the projects.

For more information about the initiative, visit http://www.kantarainitiative.org or go to @KantaraNews on Twitter.


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