Software // Information Management
02:49 PM

FBI Plans Biometrics Tech Center

The intelligence agency’s Criminal Justice Information Services also has added face and iris scanning, and plans palm scans to improve its crime-fighting and prevention work.

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Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
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The FBI has employed new biometrics technology and is teaming with the Department of Defense to help enhance the crime-fighting and prevention work of its largest division, the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS).

CJIS is responsible for information repositories--such as the National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System--that provide law-enforcement officers with real-time data on people's criminal history, stolen property, missing persons, and other information.

The division receives millions of electronic requests every day for these types of records, which CJIS systems must return as quickly and as accurately as possible.

This year CJIS began using a fingerprint-matching algorithm to improve the reliability of its Next Generation Identification System (NGIS), a new system it rolled out earlier this year to deliver biometric information to officers in the field, according to an interview with Special Agent David Cuthbertson, assistant director of CJIS, posted on the FBI website.

[Biometrics can help protect company assets. See Strategy: Biometrics.]

CJIS processes about 140,000 requests a day through the system, double the number it could handle on a good day a few years ago, he said. Moreover, the algorithm is allowing the FBI to match fingerprints at 99% accuracy versus 92%, which was the previous norm.

"That's a significant increase in accuracy, and for police officers on the street it translates into a greater ability to identify an individual claiming to be a different person," Cuthbertson said.

The FBI also added facial-recognition and iris-scan systems to its biometrics matching system--which is gradually replacing its predecessor, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System--and next year will be able to match palm prints for the first time, he said.

To further its work in biometrics, the FBI is teaming with the Department of Defense to build a Biometrics Technology Center on its FBI campus in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Cutherbertson said. The center, which will focus on research to advance biometrics technology, is due to be completed in spring of 2014. "It will be a tremendous resource to carry us into the future," Cutherbertson said.

Indeed, improvements in biometrics are integral to federal plans to enhance overall security at home, including cybersecurity. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--the DOD's research arm--currently is looking for new ways to biometrically identify people when they sign in to use computers without interrupting their normal activity flow.

Our annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey shows how agencies are managing the many mandates competing for their limited resources. Also in the new issue of InformationWeek Government: NASA veterans launch cloud startups, and U.S. Marshals Service completes tech revamp. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2011 | 5:10:34 PM
re: FBI Plans Biometrics Tech Center
More on the subject of biometrics and its viability as an answer to security challenges:
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
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