For those who have never looked at FRVT before, it does not merely report the accuracy results of searches against one database, but reports accuracy results for searches against eight different databases of different types and of different sizes (N).
Mugshot, Mugshot, N = 12000000
Mugshot, Mugshot, N = 1600000
Mugshot, Webcam, N = 1600000
Mugshot, Profile, N = 1600000
Visa, Border, N = 1600000
Visa, Kiosk, N = 1600000
Border, Border 10+YRS, N = 1600000
Mugshot, Mugshot 12+YRS, N = 3000000
This is actually good for the vendors who submit their biometric algorithms, because even if the algorithm performs poorly on one of the databases, it may perform wonderfully on one of the other seven. That’s how so many vendors can trumpet that their algorithm is the best. When you throw in other qualifiers such as “top five,” “best non-Chinese vendor,” and even “vastly improved,” you can see how dozens of vendors can issue “NIST says we’re the best” press releases.
Not that I knock the practice; after all, I myself have done this for years. But you need to know how to interpret these press releases, and what they’re really saying. Remember this when you read the vendor announcement toward the end of this post.
Anyway, I went to check the current results, which when you originally visit the page are sorted in the order of the fifth database, the Visa Border database. And this is what I saw this morning (October 27):
For the most part, the top five for the Visa Border test contain the usual players. North Americans will be most familiar with IDEMIA and NEC, and Cloudwalk and Sensetime have been around for a while.
A new algorithm from a not-so-new provider
But I had never noticed Cubox in the NIST testing before. And the number attached to the Cubox algorithm, “000,” indicates that this is Cubox’s first submission.
And Cubox did exceptionally well, especially for a first submission.
As you can see by the superscripts attached to each numeric value, Cubox had the second most accurate algorithm for the Visa Border test, the most accurate algorithm for the Visa Kiosk test, and placed no lower than 12th in the six (of eight) tests in which it participated. Considering that 302 algorithms have been submitted over the years, that’s pretty remarkable for a first-time submission.
Well, as an ex-IDEMIA employee, my curious nature kicked in.
The Cubox that submitted an algorithm to NIST is a South Korean firm with the website cubox.aero, self-described as “The Leading Provider in Biometrics” (aren’t they all?) with fingerprint and face solutions. Cubox competes in the access control and border control markets.
Cubox’s ten-year history and “overseas” page details its growth in its markets, and its solutions that it has provided in South Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam.
And although Cubox hasn’t trumpeted its performance on its own website (at least in the English version; I don’t know about the Korean version), Cubox has publicized its accomplishment on a LinkedIn post.
Why NIST tests aren’t important
But before you get excited about the NIST results from Cubox, Sensetime, or any of the algorithm providers, remember that the NIST test is just a test. NIST cautions people about this, I have cautioned people about this (see the fourth point in this post), and Mike French has also discussed this.
However, it is also important to remember that NIST does not test operational systems, but rather technology submitted as software development kits or SDKs. Sometimes these submissions are labeled as research (or just not labeled), but in reality it cannot be known if these algorithms are included in the product that an agency will ultimately receive when they purchase a biometric system. And even if they are “thesame”, the operational architecture could produce different results with the same core algorithms optimized for use in a NIST study.
The very fact that test results vary between the NIST databases explicitly tells you that a number one ranking on one database does not mean that you’ll get a number one ranking on every database. And as French reminds us, when you take an operational algorithm in an operational system with a customer database, the results may be quite different.
Which is why French recommends that any government agency purchasing a biometric system should conduct its own test, with vendor operational systems (rather than test systems) loaded with the agency’s own data.
Incidentally, if your agency needs a forensic expert to help with a biometric procurement or implementation, check out the consulting services offered by French’s company, Applied Forensic Services.
In January of this year, I wrote a couple of posts about websites with outdated content.
The posts were obviously self-serving (since Bredemarket happens to sell services to update website text), but the second post backed my points up with data.
Specifically, a study noted that when people want to research a solution, 53% of them perform a web search for the solution, and 41% of them go to vendor web sites.
I used this data to make the point that your website had better be up to date, if you want your potential customers to have a good impression of your business.
An outdated website looks bad.
But I just ran across something even worse.
Worse than an outdated website
I’m not going to provide specifics, but I just saw a Facebook post in a local business group that promoted a service. This happens to be a service that is popular with individuals and businesses. The Facebook post stated that the service provider was the best provider in the local area, and was better than the competition. The post then gave the company name of the service provider, and…
…a local phone number.
You can guess what I did next. Like 53% of you, I searched for information on this particular company. I started on Facebook itself; since the individual made the post on Facebook, I figured that the company had a Facebook page.
It didn’t. The company had no Facebook presence.
So I got out of Facebook and went off into the World Wide Web and (like 41% of you) searched for the company’s web page.
I found no company web page with that name in California, but I did find a company with that name in another part of the country that coincidentally provided the same service. But I could tell that this was a separate company.
So I went back to the original Facebook post and asked a question.
Does [COMPANY NAME] have a website, or just a phone number?
I received a response from the original poster.
Bredemarket, no, just a number.
I made no further comment, but it got me thinking.
What’s worse than a website with outdated content?
No website or web page at all.
And I’m not talking about a fancy-dancy website. If you’ve seen Bredemarket’s website, it’s not fancy-dancy.
I’m just talking about a simple page. It doesn’t have to be on your own domain; it could be on wordpress.com (like my jebredcal site) or wix.com even facebook.com (Bredemarket has one of those too). Just something that ideally tells you the company name, the person who runs the company, the address of the company (yes, UPS Store addresses are acceptable; I know), a phone number, and an email address.
When all of these elements are available, and they’re present on a website, you have at least some assurance that the company is a viable concern. (I’ll grant that this can be faked, like Abdul Enterprises was faked, but at least a name, address, email, and phone number suggest that the company is real.)
A company name and a phone number with no website, no email address, and no company ownership information is…well, it’s sketchy.
So how does a company without an online presence establish one?
There are a variety of ways to establish a company online presence. You could pay for a website, you could set up a free website via a variety of service providers, or you could simply set up a social media page such as a Facebook page.
Now Bredemarket doesn’t create websites, and Bredemarket doesn’t create Facebook business pages. Facebook offers step-by-step instructions on how to create a Facebook business page, and there are guides on how to create complete websites such as a Wix site (and you can do it for free if you don’t need a custom domain and use accountname.wixsite.com/siteaddress).
Creating the site, however, is only part of the story.
Bredemarket can help you establish the initial content for a website or a Facebook page. (And if you desire, I can help you refresh the content also.)
Let’s look at the simplest example, where you just want to establish a presence with a few hundred words (say 400 to 600 words).
Topic. Well, the topic is your business, of course, but how would you summarize your business in one sentence?
Goal. What is the goal of your site or page? Do you want people to immediately buy something online? Do you want people to rush to your business location and buy something? Or do you just want people to talk to you about your product or service?
Benefits. I’ve talked about this ad nauseum, but it’s important to explain why people should want your product or service. If your explanation results in a “so what?” from the potential customer, then you need to refine your benefit statement.
Target audience. The message on your site or page is obviously affected by your target audience. A page intended for forensic scientists will have different messaging than a page intended for high school students who want an after school snack.
Other questions. These are going to vary from engagement to engagement, but it’s important to ask these questions up front to minimize any misunderstandings later.
After you and I have talked through these questions, I’ll start creating the text to place on your website. By the time we’ve gone through the process and we’re done, you’ll have an initial website presence for your business. People will be able to find your business, find out what it’s about, contact you, and give you lots of money.
But that won’t happen until the people can find out what you offer.
And it won’t happen if they only have a business name and a phone number.
If you want Bredemarket to help you establish an online presence with the correct words to woo customers:
At the same time, a number of new hair stylists and barber shops have opened in downtown Ontario. Trust me, there’s a bunch of them.
I don’t know if this is public knowledge (it’s been discussed at the Ontario IDEA Exchange and other B2B forums), but downtown Ontario is even on track to have an establishment that combines the two business types. (Of course, a few of you have already figured out who I’m talking about.)
Without a bridge, you’re stuck at one place and can’t get to the other place. Or you can try to get to the other place, but you may get very wet.
Businesses need bridges to connect with their customers. When the bridges are erected, the customers understand what the businesses can do for them. If the customers need those particular services, they can buy them.
Back on October 23, 2007, I used my then-active Twitter account to tweet about the #sandiegofire. The San Diego fire was arguably the first mass adoption of hashtags, building upon pioneering work by Stowe Boyd and Chris Messina and acted upon by Nate Ritter and others.
The tinyurl link directed followers to my post detailing how the aforementioned San Diego Fire was displacing sports teams, including the San Diego Chargers. (Yes, kids, the Chargers used to play in San Diego.)
Of course, hashtags have changed a lot since 2007-2008. After some resistance, Twitter formally supported the use of hashtags, and Facebook and other services followed, leading to mass adoption beyond the Factory Joes of the world.
Ignoring personal applications for the moment, hashtags have proven helpful for business purposes, especially when a particular event is taking place. No, not a fire in a major American city, but a conference of some sort. Conferences of all types have rushed to adopt hashtags so that conference attendees will promote their conference attendance. The general rule is that the more techie the conference, the more likely the attendees will use the conference-promoted hashtag.
I held various social media responsibilities during my years at MorphoTrak and IDEMIA, some of which were directly connected to the company’s annual user conference, and some of which were connected to the company’s attendance at other events. Obviously we pulled out the stops for our own conferences, including adopting hashtags that coincided with the conference theme.
And then when the conference organizers adopt a hashtag, they fervently hope that people will actually USE the adopted hashtag. As I said before, this isn’t an issue for the technical conferences, but it can be an issue at the semi-technical conferences. (“Hey, everybody! Gather around the screen! Someone used the conference hashtag…oh wait a minute, that’s my burner account.”)
A pleasant surprise with exhibitor/speaker adoption of the #connectID hashtag
Well, I think that we’ve finally crossed a threshold in the biometric world, and hashtags are becoming more and more acceptable.
As I previously mentioned, I’m not attending next week’s connect:ID conference in Washington DC, but I’m obviously interested in the proceedings.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly two dozen exhibitors and speakers were using the #connectID hashtag (or referenced via the hashtag) as of the Friday before the event, including Acuity Market Intelligence, Aware, BIO-key, Blink Identity, Clearview AI, HID Global, IDEMIA, Integrated Biometrics, iProov, Iris ID, Kantara, NEC and NEC NSS, Pangiam, Paravision, The Paypers, WCC, WorldReach Software/Entrust, and probably some others by the time you read this, as well as some others that I may have missed.
And the event hasn’t even started yet.
At least some of the companies will have the presence of mind to tweet DURING the event on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Will yours be one of them?
But company adoption is only half the battle
While encouraging to me, adoption of a hashtag by a conference’s organizers, exhibitors, and speakers is only the beginning.
The true test will take place when (if) the ATTENDEES at the conference also choose to adopt the conference hashtag.
According to Terrapin (handling the logistics of conference organization), more than 2,500 people are registered for the conference. While the majority of these people are attending the free exhibition, over 750 of them are designated as “conference delegates” who will attend the speaking sessions.
How many of these people will tweet or post about #connectID?
I was looking over the Bredemarket blog posts for September, and I found some posts that addressed the content side of Bredemarket’s services. (There are also blog posts that address the proposal side; see here for a summary of those posts.)
As a starting point, what content services has Bredemarket created for its clients? I quantified these around the middle of the month and came up with this list.
And I’ve been working on additional content projects for clients that I haven’t added to the list yet.
So now I am not only providing content for biometric firms (after all, I am a biometric content marketing expert), but also for technology firms (including one for which I completed a project this month) and for local small businesses.
Now that I changed my mind and have augmented my personal Instagram account with a Bredemarket Instagram account, Instagram is sending Bredemarket helpful tips and messages. Here’s part of a message I recently received from Instagram.
Let EVERYONE know how to connect with you, including friends and family?
What’s wrong with letting EVERYONE know about your business social media account?
While there is some merit in Instagram’s advice, there’s one very important caveat if you are trying to build a business, rather than just trying to build follower count.
Only invite people to follow your business account who are genuinely interested in your business.
Obviously current customers are interested in your business, and inviting them to follow is a good idea.
The same goes for potential customers, a category that Instagram inadvertently left out of its pitch.
And some of your friends and family who are knowledgeable about the issues in your business may be good invitees, because even if they can’t provide business (and sometimes they can), they can serve as evangelists to others. Someone of my Facebook and LinkedIn friends have already helped me in this capacity.
But I haven’t gone out of my way to invite my friends who do not own or work for identity, biometrics, technology, or local (Inland Empire West) firms to follow the Bredemarket Instagram account. Why not? Because it provides no benefit to Bredemarket.
So why does Instagram want me to invite friends and family to follow the Bredemarket account? Because it does provide benefit to Instagram. The more people engaged on Instagram translates to more opportunities for Instagram to display ads, which benefits Instagram’s bottom line. But it won’t benefit your bottom line as a business.
So if my European daughters’ retired high school teacher is waiting for that Instagram invite from Bredemarket…keep waiting.
Shameless non-sponsored plug for Ray of Social
Incidentally, my thoughts on WHO to invite to follow your business social media accounts have been heavily influenced by Georgia of Ray of Social. Her Instagram account is here. Pay special attention to her “3 things that harm your growth,” especially thing 2 (although thing 1 and thing 3 are also important).
Like any good process, the not-so-new-anymore Bredemarket content creation process asks a lot of questions up front. These questions ensure that I perform the project in accordance with the wishes of my client.
Because, as we all know, it costs more to rework a project at the end than it does at the beginning. (Or maybe you didn’t know that; it’s something I included in some work I did for a client. But the client knows.)
Specifically, early in the engagement I reach agreement with my client on all or most of the following questions on the content:
The target audience.
The section sub-goals.
Relevant key words/hashtags.
Interim and final due dates.
When you break it out, that’s a lot of stuff.
And there’s more stuff that I need to know from the client that I’m not sharing publicly. But I’ll give you a hint: some of the questions are driven by a recent experience with Google Docs, and the fact that two different people weren’t using the same fonts, sizes, and styles. Well, if Google Docs can’t take care of it automatically, I can ask about fonts/sizes/styles (when applicable) so that the issue can be resolved manually.
So I’ve created a form that I can use for either the content or proposals sides of the Bredemarket business, and the form contains all of the questions that I need to ask a client at the beginning of an engagement.
Or at least I think it contains all of the questions.
In the course of doing business, Bredemarket has created some dedicated social media accounts, while also using some existing social media accounts of my own.
As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, Bredemarket has its own dedicated LinkedIn page, LinkedIn showcase pages (including my new one), Facebook page, and Facebook groups.
Bredemarket doesn’t have its own Twitter account, but Bredemarket content is posted on the “professional” of my two Twitter accounts, @jebredcal.
Finally, as of yesterday Bredemarket didn’t have its own Instagram account.
Why didn’t Bredemarket have its own Instagram account? For three reasons:
Reason 1: Bredemarket is a TEXT creation service, and that doesn’t lend itself to Instagram’s image-heavy environment. Let’s face it: if I were to take a picture of myself typing away at my computer right now, it would be VERY boring.
Reason 2: Instagram is primarily an environment for influencers, viral content, and the like. Bredemarket wouldn’t really create content that fits into that environment.
Reason 3: If I were to create an Instagram account, that would be just one more social media mouth to feed. And I as well as anyone else know that if you don’t feed the content beast, people will think you no longer exist.
Well, that sounds like three pretty convincing reasons NOT to start a Bredemarket Instagram account.
So why did I do it?
Because I looked at those three reasons right now, and decided that I was wrong on all three of them.
Start with reason 1, content creation. As time has gone on, I have created more and more visual content, including images of my (finally received) business card, brochure images with QR codes, and pictures of locations relevant to Bredemarket’s markets.
True, but as reason 2 asks, would this content fit into Instagram’s environment? Actually it would if used properly. After all, while perhaps the influencers receive the primary attention on Instagram, many of my people are there too, including biometrics companies, technologists, and (becoming more important) local businesses and organizations. My personal account has been interacting more and more with these accounts.
Finally, reason 3 and the whole “feed the beast” issue. Well, I’m already feeding the beast, because I’ve been creating Bredemarket posts on my personal Instagram account @johnebredehoft. So many Bredemarket posts, in fact, that I started a highlights category on my personal Instagram account for Bredemarket content. I’ve highlighted blog posts, podcasts, a video, Instagram posts from others, and related content.
Interestingly enough, one of the stories in that highlights category reminded me of something I had forgotten about. Obviously I’ve been weighing the question of a Bredemarket Instagram account for some time. About twenty weeks ago, I asked my personal Instagram account followers if I should create a separate Bredemarket account, and 60% of them said yes.
Of course, I’ve concentrated more on local business in the last twenty weeks (although I’m still addressing identity/biometrics/secure documents), so the case to market on Instagram is even more compelling.
So look for @bredemarket on Instagram. I’m just getting started.
(But I still wish that links in Instagram posts were clickable…)