Study: Computerized Fingerprint Systems Extremely Accurate

A National Institute of Standards and Technology shows the best systems are accurate more than 99% of the time.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

July 15, 2004

1 Min Read

As biometrics become a crucial part of homeland security, Congress wanted to know how precise are computerized systems that automatically match fingerprints. A federal study concludes: extremely accurate.

The best systems are accurate more than 99% of the time, according to a just-released study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which tested 34 commercially available systems provided by 18 companies. The test used 48,105 sets of fingerprints from 25,309 people, culled from state and federal sources, resulting in 393,370 distinct fingerprint images.

According to NIST, the most accurate systems came from Cogent, NEC, and Sagem. Performance varies depending on how many fingerprints from a given individual are being matched. The best systems are accurate 98.6% of the time on single-finger tests, 99.6% on two-finger tests, and 99.9% on tests involving four or more fingers.

The Justice Management Division of the Department of Justice sponsored the study as part of its efforts to integrate the fingerprint systems operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.

NIST conducted the study to fulfill requirements of the Patriot Act and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act.

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