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FBI Deploys Enhanced Fingerprint ID System

Designed by Lockheed Martin, the multimillion-dollar Next Generation Identification System lets the agency exchange fingerprint and biometric ID data around the clock with 18,000 partners.

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The FBI has deployed a new biometric ID system aimed at creating a more effective and accurate process for identifying fingerprints and other forms of biometric information.

Lockheed Martin built the multimillion-dollar Next Generation Identification System (NGIS) to replace over a period of time the FBI's current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which Lockheed has supported since it went live in 1999, the company said.

The new system provides an integrated fingerprint-identification system that lets the FBI exchange fingerprints with more than 18,000 law-enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal-justice partners around the clock, according to Lockheed Martin. It also provides automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, and electronic image storage.

A key benefit of NGIS over its predecessor is its ability to process and allow authorized personnel to search for biometric identification information for material other than fingerprints, such as palm prints, iris scans, facial imaging, scars, marks, and tattoos, according to the FBI.

In addition to building the back-end system, Lockheed also is providing new workstations for use by FBI personnel. The new front-end hardware features larger display screens and higher resolution to provide more detailed biometric data.

Although it's only been deployed operationally since Feb. 25, NGIS already is achieving more accurate fingerprint-identification results, said Lockheed spokesperson Kimberly Jaindl.

NGIS matches fingerprints according to 10-print matching, which gives it an accuracy rate of more than 99% versus the legacy system's 92% accuracy, she said.

The new system also features significant improvement in system response times, with an average rate of 6 minutes on criminal checks. IAFIS took about 17 minutes for criminal checks, Jaindl said.

Indeed, NGIS is meant to produce more rapid results, which it has already proved to do in FBI tests. According to results of tests performed on the two systems posted on the FBI Web site, NGIS produced identification results of high-priority criminal cases in 10 minutes, and civil cases in 15 minutes.

With IAFIS, on the other hand, the FBI took two hours to deliver criminal investigation biometric identification and 24 hours for civil cases. The system also did not include a prioritization system based on importance.

A new time saving feature of NGIS is responsible for at least some of its ability to provide identification results more quickly. The system includes quality check automation, which eliminates a previous need for manual review of biometric information in 98% of identification transactions, according to the FBI.

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