Modernizing a Legacy Biometric Capturing System for Evolving Business Needs and Better Data Sharing

biometrics processes


Our client governs the nation’s lawful immigration system and annually processes 3M requests for immigration benefits. Part of the application process includes collecting biometrics data, which is then shared with other internal departments and external organizations. Our client initially used a proprietary commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) biometrics product to process immigrant benefit applications that required significant and costly upgrades, customizations, and licensing fees. The more than 4,000 users of the biometrics systems were demanding an improved user experience, and continuous and evolving functionality more quickly. Partner law enforcement agencies were also requiring better data-sharing capabilities between both modern and legacy systems. However, the COTS customization requests were lengthy and expensive to complete, and the backlog kept growing. Our client needed a custom biometrics system with frequent feature upgrades to speed delivery of new capabilities to field agents, integrate better with other upstream and downstream systems, scale to meet the capacity of biometrics storage, reduce costs, and more effectively process applicant requests to meet mission goals.


Pyramid Systems worked directly with end users, providing rapid prototypes, analyzing user feedback, and making changes to the design before development began. End users were a top priority and were included in the design and development process from beginning to end. As a result, the system received positive user feedback, especially in the area of processing applicants quickly and accurately.

Our seasoned experience with Scrum (agile) method was leveraged to quickly produce a high-quality, minimum viable product that exceeded our business client’s expectations called the Summary Management System (SMS) Biometrics Registration Tool (BRT). The team also implemented a Jenkins-managed continuous integration, continuous development (CI/CD) pipeline that managed the process of building, testing, inspecting, and delivering the application for deployment and additional future features. When a user identified an issue during the pilot phase, the CI/CD pipeline enabled a rapid new build to fix the problem in less than 24 hours. The pilot phase allowed Pyramid to quickly optimize the SMS-BRT solution, while Pyramid’s DevSecOps process identified and remedied security vulnerabilities from the very beginning of the project.

Pyramid was required to deliver a modernized SMS-BRT application that also integrated with many other existing internal and external legacy systems for processing, validating, and checking immigrant information for fraud and criminal activity. To solve the problem, back-end services were stood up in the AWS cloud, leveraging cutting-edge services (e.g., AWS S3, AWS Network Load Balancer). Pyramid then developed an integration solution to enable fast processing and communication between the modern SMS-BRT and other legacy systems. This creative and collaborative approach was implemented and included other client project teams.


Pyramid’s award-winning solution replaced a set of manual processes and batch legacy applications with a secure, transformative web service that was able to capture, scale, and share portable and high-quality biometrics data across agencies. The solution improved mission performance and services to stakeholders while reducing costs. SMS-BRT was deployed to 138 biometric collection centers around the country that together process more than 15,000 applicants daily.

Client benefits of our SMS-BRT solution include:

  1. Ability to quickly expand biometric modalities for future capabilities to address changing business needs
  2. Automated analysis of facial biometric captures to ensure usability for multiple purposes throughout the immigration process
  3. Flexible workflow adaptations that enabled quick adoption of a faster biometric collection process, which lowered capture times from 10 minutes to 5 minutes
  4. Real-time data and image quality feedback that decreased biometrics errors by 50%
  5. Greater security of the biometrics data at rest and in transit
  6. Assured 95% code coverage via a mature CI/CD pipeline

Our client received an internal agency award for developing and deploying a strategic, enterprise-wide biometric capability to improve operations, enhance the integrity of our immigration system, and eliminate the possibility of impostors acquiring immigration benefits.


We have successfully helped multiple agencies modernize their applications to improve mission performance—let us help yours! Contact us at for more information.

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