Leveraging the Next Generation Identification System
Written by Kristi Mayo   

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An era in biometric identification and investigation came to a close and a new one began on September 7, 2014, when the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division officially decommissioned the 15-year-old Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and, in turn, deployed the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. Designed to meet the needs of modern law enforcement agencies, the NGI system hosts a suite of capabilities that are more efficient, mobile, and diverse.

 
Incremental Rollout
 
After it first became operational in July 1999 with a price tag of $640 million, IAFIS became the workhorse that provided access to, and automated searches of, more than 77 million records—the world’s largest repository of digital fingerprint images and criminal history information. Replacing IAFIS couldn’t be accomplished in one conversion. Instead, the implementation of NGI was planned in seven increments over a period of seven years. To date, all but one phase—a technical refresh of all equipment previously installed with the implementation of NGI—have been completed and the rollout of the system is reported to be on schedule and slightly below the initial estimated budget of $1.2 billion.
 
So Many Features...
 
Surveying the list of NGI’s capabilities reveals how it was crafted to serve as a tool for identification and investigation throughout the “criminal life cycle”—from patrol officers’ initial contact with an individual all the way through parole or probation. Here we take a look at six key features, and explore those best utilized by different end users:
 
Facial Recognition
This capability, deployed in September 2014 as part of Increment 4, allows facial images obtained in support of an authorized criminal justice purpose to be searched against criminal photos stored in NGI. The NGI facial recognition system does not provide positive identification; instead, it provides ranked candidate lists as “investigative leads” to authorized agencies.

Palmprints
In May 2013, Increment 3 of NGI introduced the National Palm Print System (NPPS). Statistically, 20 to 30 percent of the latent prints left at a crime scene come from the palm or writer’s edge of the hand. As the NPPS grows, the ability to search latent palmprints against a national repository is expected to increase investigative opportunities.
 
Rap Back
The National Rap Back Service, a part of the September 2014 Increment 4 rollout, allows authorized agencies to be notified of criminal activity involving individuals working with vulnerable populations, persons serving in positions of trust, and persons under criminal justice supervision.
 
Scars, Marks, Tattoos
Distinctive characteristics such as scars, marks, and tattoos (SMTs) have long been a tool for identifying individuals. Increment 4 of NGI includes the ability to query the system with descriptive data in order to find images of potential matches of SMTs associated with individuals’ records.
 
RISC
Many local agencies are already utilizing hand-held mobile identification devices that give officers the ability to launch a roadside query based on an individual’s fingerprint. These queries are generally based on an agency’s own local fingerprint database. RISC—the Repository for Individuals of Special Concern—gives local and state agencies the ability to search a subset of the national fingerprint repository, populated with the biographical and fingerprint information associated with wanted persons, known or appropriately suspected terrorists, registered sex offenders, and other individuals of special interest. The RISC system is available to process searches 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is updated in near real-time. Currently, 21 states and one federal agency are participating in this national service, accounting for more than 2,000 transactions per day with a response time of less than 5 seconds and an average hit rate of 3 to 6 percent.

Tenprints
As with the legacy system, a tenprint submission consists of 10 rolled fingerprint impressions and corresponding flat fingerprint impressions. Criminal tenprints are acquired locally and then electronically forwarded to the state or federal agency system for processing. The prints are then sent through the CJIS Wide Area Network to NGI for processing. With NGI’s use of advanced matching algorithms in the Advanced Fingerprint Identification Technology (AFIT), identification accuracy has been increased from 92% to more than 99%, and manual fingerprint reviews have decreased by 90%. Response time requirements have dropped from 2 hours to 1 hour for criminal inquiries, and from 24 hours to 12 hours for civil inquiries.
 
Latent Print Searches
The new matching algorithm in AFIT also makes latent print searches three times more accurate than searches performed with the old IAFIS algorithm. In addition, NGI expanded latent searches of the Criminal Master File to include the Civil Repository and the Unsolved Latent File (ULF). Also, criminal, civil, and investigative biometrics are now allowed to search against unsolved latent prints, resulting in new investigative leads.
 

 

Key NGI Capabilities for Each Division of Use
 
Patrol Officers
  • RISC
  • Facial Recognition
 
Arrest Processing
  • Tenprint
  • Palmprints
  • Facial Recognition
 
Investigators
  • Tenprint
  • Palmprints
  • Facial Recognition
  • Rap Back
 
Crime Scene
  • Palmprints
  • Latent Print Searches
 
Incarceration
  • Scars, Marks, Tattoos
  • Facial Recognition
  • Tenprint
  • Palmprints
 
Parole/Probation
  • Scars, Marks, Tattoos
  • Facial Recognition
  • Tenprint
  • Palmprints
  • Rap Back

 

 
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