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NCITS and BioAPI Consortium Announce Fast Track Candidate - Public Review to Run October 19 - December 3, 2001


Jim Ryland

Manager, NCITS Administration


NCITS and BioAPI Consortium Announce the

Public Review of NCITS 358, BioAPI Specification

Washington DC (September 21, 2001) ­The National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) today announced the public review of the BioAPI Specification, Version 1.1 will run from October 19 to December 3, 2001. NCITS and the BioAPI Consortium this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to take the BioAPI Specification through the NCITS Fast Track process to become an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard.

"In a time of national crisis, biometrics are becoming the foundation for an extensive array of highly secure identification and personal authentication solutions," said Rhett Dawson, president of ITI, the industry trade association that sponsors the standards committee. "Work on the biometrics Application Program Interface (API) specification has been underway by a group of 85 companies and organizations through the BioAPI Consortium for two years. It is time to use the "Fast Track" process so that we will have a standard by the end of the year."

"The BioAPI Steering Committee sees this as a significant milestone for the BioAPI specification", said Cathy Tilton of SAFLINK, who chairs the BioAPI Consortium. "It has always been one of the Consortium’s goals to eventually transition the BioAPI to a formal standards body. NCITS provides a great vehicle for doing just that; and we feel that with the release of Version 1.1 of the specification, it is the right time to move forward with that goal."

The BioAPI Specification defines an open system standard application program interface (API) that allows software applications to communicate with a broad range of biometric technologies in a common way. Version 1.1 of the BioAPI Specification, and the associated Reference Implementation software, were released in March of this year.

NCITS, as an Accredited Standards Committee, provides "Fast Track" procedures to review for approval as an American National Standard, standards within its scope developed and approved by an organization not accredited by ANSI for processing them directly. The BioAPI Consortium and specification fit this description.

The membership of both organizations, NCITS and BioAPI, voted in favor of the agreement in recent ballots, and the MOU was put in place. The public review is a requirement of ANSI. The NCITS ballot will overlap with the public review and the process should be complete in early December.

The BioAPI is the result of several years of collaborative effort of the biometrics industry, government, and major information technology vendors. The members of the BioAPI Consortium cover a broad cross section of biometric technology manufacturers, integrators, OEMs, and end users from around the world. Three of the members of NCITS are on the Steering Committee of the consortium.

The BioAPI Specification provides for simple biometric application interfaces; standard access methods to biometric functions, algorithms, and devices; secured and robust biometric data management and storage; standard methods of differentiating biometric data and device types; and support for biometric identification in distributed computing environments.

The BioAPI supports a wide range of biometric technologies including fingerprint imaging, speaker verification, facial recognition, iris scanning, dynamic signature, and hand geometry. It is designed for use in a broad range of applications, extending from embedded devices (such as in cell phones) to large-scale identification systems (such as national ID systems), as well as user authentication applications associated with computer and network access.

As an "open systems" specification, the BioAPI is intended for use across a broad spectrum of computing environments to insure cross-platform support. This includes the Windows® operating system as well as other environments such as Linux™ or Unix™.

BioAPI is compatible with the recently released Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF), NIST Publication NISTIR 6529; ANSI standard X9.84-2001, Biometric Management and Security for the Financial Services Industry©; and the Human Recognition Services module of The Open Group’s Common Data Security Architecture (CDSA) standard.

Currently, the BioAPI specification and the software are freely available for download from the Consortium’s website ( The Reference Implementation is the software instantiation of the BioAPI framework. The Reference Implementation is available royalty-free as open source software.


The National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) is the forum of choice for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal de jure IT standards. NCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These rules are designed to ensure that voluntary standards are developed by the consensus of directly and materially affected interests. The NCITS web site is and the address is NCITS Secretariat, Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), 1250 Eye St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005. [From 1961- 1996, NCITS operated under the name Accredited Standards Committee X3, Information Technology.] Additional information can be found at

About BioAPI

Additional information about the BioAPI Consortium, the BioAPI Specification, and the BioAPI Reference Implementation can be found at

BioAPI™ is a registered trademark of the BioAPI Consortium. All other brands and products referenced herein are acknowledged to be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.