This week, the FBI announced that in September it will be doing away with the old cliche storage warehouses full of identity information when its Next Generation Identification (NGI) system becomes fully active. The project, which involves the digitization of over 30 million records, signifies a major milestone for the FBI as it will be fully replacing the bureau’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
With the digitization comes efficiency, but also a pang of nostalgia for the olden days. As the records are converted into computer data, the physical copies are destroyed. This includes the hard biometric evidence of approximately 83 million fingerprint cards.
Since the FBI has a rich history of investigation and identification (dating back to the 1920s), more than a few of its subjects have transcended their crimes over time and become the subject of American folklore. As such, hard copies of the files and fingerprints belonging to the likes of John Dillinger and criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde are being preserved for archival and historical reasons.
Moving beyond the fond memories of the old days, the FBI’s NGI system will be a great boon to the bureau’s most frequent customers. This includes law enforcement agencies, veterans, government employees and the FBI labs, all of which will now have greater and easier access to the files they need.
Quoted for a post on the FBI’s website, Penny Harker, who runs the Biometric Services Unit at the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) explains, “It makes those records immediately accessible to law enforcement across the country… It’s a great benefit to them not having a delay simply because we were still storing files in a manual format.”
Harker explains that manually manually fulfilling fingerprint matching requests used to take hours. With the NGI activated the process should only take minutes.
Deputy assistant director at CJIS, Jeremy Wiltz was quoted for the same post, saying “This is a monumental leap for us, because now we’re not taking months to get back with a positive identification. With our Next Generation Identification, we’re going to take that into seconds and sub-seconds.”
NGI went live in 2013 with the activation of its National Palm Print System and enhanced fingerprint latents. The event was included on the FindBiometrics Year in Review and Lockheed Martin senior fellow John Mears included the company’s involvement with the program as a major annual highlight.
August 28, 2014 – by Peter B. Counter