Revolutionizing Fingerprints


 “NGI is a state-of-the-art biometric identification system that the FBI and law enforcement agencies are using to keep Americans and their families safe,” said Art Ibers, NGI program director for IS&GS-Civil. “Simply put, NGI will help confirm that people are who they say they are, and for investigations, help figure out who has been at the scene of a crime.”

John Traxler, FBI program management executive, confirmed that in its first days online, NGI provided additional identification of subjects with criminal charges including murder, assault, fugitive from justice, rape and burglary.

Rising Demand

Since its earliest days, the FBI used biometrics — measurable physical traits, such as fingerprints — to identify individuals. The FBI assumed responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924, and today provides identification services to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, as well as civilian background checks and licensing as authorized by law.

“Within the past year, the FBI has seen unprecedented demand for identification services, with its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) processing an average of 200,000 fingerprint transactions each day,” explained Ibers.

Quantum Leap

In 2008, the FBI selected Lockheed Martin to lead the development of a new system that would incrementally replace IAFIS. It would be known as the Next Generation Identification system. Under its current initial operating capability (IOC), NGI is able to perform approximately 650,000 fingerprint transactions per day at an accuracy rate of more than 99 percent, with response times as low as six minutes.

In addition to vastly improving the FBI’s fingerprint identification services, NGI will also store latent and rolled fingerprints and palm prints. In its later stages, the NGI team will incorporate facial recognition capabilities and conduct a pilot study on the use of iris as a biometric.

Mission Dedication

IS&GS-Civil Engineer Tom Chalk, who served as the project lead overseeing the two-year effort to deploy NGI’s fingerprint identification capability, says that the accomplishment would not have been possible without such a dedicated team.

Ibers and Champ both agree that the most challenging aspect of reaching IOC was the re-characterization of every fingerprint in the IAFIS system — about 93 million sets — for operation in the NGI system. The team — and the FBI customer — also agreed that the mission made it worth it.

Posted December 5, 2011