UMF a Solution for EU Interoperability
EU Interoperability is limited. And this leads to information silos within central EU systems. The EU wants to remove these silos and improve the exchange of information. With this in mind, it introduced new interoperability regulations in 2019. These changes will assist law enforcement, reduce the risk of misidentification, and protect the rights of citizens. But it needs industry partnerships to achieve these goals.
The first part of this blog described how Amr el Rahwan outlined a landscape during the 11th eu-LISA Industry Roundtable in Tallinn in which Interoperability can be achieved using UMF. This second part explores the solution presented by Amr. And how WCC’s expertise in biographic identity matching can help to deliver a solution.
New EU interoperability regulations
The Universal Message Format (UMF) should serve as a standard for structured, cross-border information exchange between information systems, authorities or organizations in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).
The regulations go on to state that “UMF may be considered in VIS, SIS, and in any other existing or new cross-border information exchanges.” WCC already uses UMF-compliant data in many of their solutions.
UMF – pioneering role for WCC
UMF is key to achieving EU Interoperability. Especially for information concerning crimes and persons of interest. Six countries have already introduced UMF, including Finland. And as a supplier to the Finnish police, WCC has gained valuable expertise in using UMF. At the same time, Police forces have long used POLE to classify crimes. Similarly, UMF uses Person, Item (Object), Location, Event (Offence), and a fifth attribute: Biometric Data.
For example, consider a murder incident, where an unknown person was the victim of a shooting. Witnesses later described the suspect as a middle-aged white male with blue eyes and red hair, wearing glasses, a red shirt, and blue trousers. Using POLE, the description is:
- Person: Victim; Murderer (40-50, male, caucasian, blue eyes, red hair, glasses)
- Object (Item): Gun, red shirt; blue trousers
- Location: Stadium
- Event (Offence): Murder
With an eye to the future, UMF can represent data obtained from surveillance systems. So in the above example, face recognition systems will find facial metadata such as age, gender, glasses, and other physical characteristics. Likewise, video analytics can add more metadata. So we can automatically identify items such as a shirt, trousers, and colors. The POLE data model makes it possible to search and correlate this metadata.
It’s all about sharing and reusability
In the future, EU interoperability will rely on the use of a Common Identity Repository (CIR). So the CIR will create an identity file for each person found in EES, VIS, ETIAS, EURODAC, or ECRIS-TCN. All these systems will use CIR, and so smart matching is critical. This technology can identify unique individuals and link them to multiple instances in each database. Alongside CIR, the proposed Shared Biometric Identification Service (sBMS) will handle all biometric matching, especially fingerprints and face recognition.
Significantly, EU interoperability encourages the reuse of IT systems. The EU VIS system already uses an out-of-the-box matching platform. Furthermore, the VIS data model is Person-Centric, based on POLE. As a result, the existing VIS data model can be upgraded to meet UMF standards. With an upgrade to the existing fuzzy matching functions, VIS can also support the CIR biographic identity matching requirements for all current and planned EU information systems.
Due to the fragmented silos within the EU, there is no safe method to check if a person appears in more than one EU system. Furthermore, no means to check if a person has assumed multiple identities. Or to find differences in the details stored. And also no method to check if the discrepancies are fraudulent or accidental. To resolve this problem, clause (25) of the EU interoperability regulations requires a Multiple Identity Detector (MID). In other words, the MID will check for duplicate identities in the different EU systems. When there is a hit in two or more systems, the MID will automatically create a link.
A solution based on expertise
WCC recommends an out-of-the-box matching solution. A recommendation based on our expertise in dataset consolidation. These technologies already support many of the features needed for EU interoperability. For example, de-duplication for use in MID and CIR. And also, watch list matching and risk assessments, both critical requirements for ETIAS – a system to perform pre-travel security checks, as well as screen irregular migration of visa-exempt non-EU nationals.
By reusing the existing technology in VIS, and using an out-of-the-box matching platform for the shared CIR, many of the EU requirements are met. This will support the UMF model and the creation of Multiple Identity links. Additionally, the platform has the watch list matching and risk assessment tools that ETIAS requires. For this reason, an out-of-the-box solution could improve EU interoperability and reduce the total cost of ownership.
Finally, the eu-LISA conference report concludes that more interoperability at the Member State level is essential to the success of an EU-level solution. Yet many individual Member States are unaware that they need to improve their internal information systems to exchange data efficiently. WCC’s know-how and technology mean that we can help Member State organizations to achieve this goal. To find out more, please get in touch.