Today, the term “biometrics” is not limited to fingerprints. It also includes palm prints, irises, and facial recognition. In an effort to harness new technologies, and to improve the application of tenprint and latent fingerprint searches, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division developed and incrementally integrated a new system to replace the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). This new system, the Next Generation Identification (NGI), provides the criminal justice community with the world’s largest and most efficient electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information.
Biometrics has been incredibly useful to the FBI and its partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and the Bureau continues to look to new scientific advancements to increase the range and quality of its identification and investigative capabilities. The NGI System offers services that provide a platform for multimodal functionality that will continue to evolve with new technologies and user requirements.
Beginning in July 1999, the CJIS Division operated and maintained the IAFIS, the world’s largest person-centric database. The IAFIS provided automated tenprint and latent fingerprint searches, electronic image storage, electronic exchanges of fingerprints and responses, as well as text-based searches based on descriptive information. Because of growing threats, new identification capabilities were necessary. Advancements in technology allowed further development of biometric identification services. The CJIS Division, with guidance from the user community, developed the NGI System to meet the evolving business needs of its IAFIS customers.
Building on the foundation of the IAFIS, the NGI brought the FBI’s biometric identification services and criminal history information to the next level. The NGI system improved the efficiency and accuracy of biometric services to address evolving local, state, tribal, federal, national, and international criminal justice requirements. New capabilities include a national Rap Back service; the Interstate Photo System; fingerprint verification services; more complete and accurate identity records; and enhancements to the biometric identification repository. Below are descriptions of some of those capabilities.
Here are some of the NGI System's capabilities:
The FBI deployed the first increment of the NGI System in February 2011, when the AFIT replaced the legacy Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) segment of the IAFIS. The AFIT enhanced fingerprint and latent processing services, increased the accuracy and daily fingerprint processing capacity, and improved system availability. The CJIS Division implemented a new fingerprint-matching algorithm that improved matching accuracy from 92 percent to more than 99.6 percent. In addition, contributors experienced faster response times, fewer transaction rejects, and increased frequency of identification and file maintenance notifications triggered by consolidations.
In 2011, the RISC, a rapid search service accessible to law enforcement officers nationwide, became available through the use of a mobile fingerprint device. The NGI rapid search, with response times of less than 10 seconds, offers additional officer safety and situational awareness by providing on-scene access to a national repository of wants and warrants including the Immigration Violator File (IVF) of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), convicted sex offenders, and known or appropriately suspected terrorists. The NGI RISC rapid search service is available only to authorized criminal justice personnel for criminal justice purposes in compliance with federal and state laws.
The NGI System’s latent functionality uses a Friction Ridge Investigative File composed of all retained events for an individual as opposed to one composite image set per identity. These multiple events in the repository result in three times the previous latent search accuracy and allow for additional event image retrieval to support difficult casework.
Prior to the NGI System, latent images searched against the criminal repository. Now, latent users can search latent images against the criminal, civil, and Unsolved Latent File (ULF) repositories. Moreover, incoming criminal and civil submissions (tenprint, palm print, RISC, and supplemental fingerprints) are cascaded against the ULF, generating new investigative leads in unsolved and/or cold cases. The CJIS Division recommends latent fingerprint images submitted prior to 2013 be resubmitted to the NGI system if no identification was made during the initial search.
In May 2013, the FBI established the National Palm Print System (NPPS). This system contains palm prints that are searchable to law enforcement nationwide. The NGI System also allows direct enrollment and deletion of palm prints and supplemental fingerprints similar to the existing direct fingerprint enrollment capability. These types of search and enrollment enhancements provide powerful new crime-solving capabilities to local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Rap Back service allows authorized agencies to receive notification of activity on individuals who hold positions of trust (e.g. school teachers, daycare workers) or who are under criminal justice supervision or investigation, thus eliminating the need for repeated background checks on a person from the same applicant agency. Prior to the deployment of Rap Back, the national criminal history background check system provided a one-time snapshot view of an individual’s criminal history status. With Rap Back, authorized agencies can receive on-going status notifications of any criminal history reported to the FBI after the initial processing and retention of criminal or civil transactions. By using fingerprint identification to identify persons arrested and prosecuted for crimes, Rap Back provides a nationwide notice to both criminal justice and noncriminal justice authorities regarding subsequent actions.
The Interstate Photo System, or IPS, is the FBI's repository of all photos received with tenprint transactions, by qualifying submission or bulk submission, when verified with an existing tenprint record. The IPS permits broader acceptance and use of photos by allowing:
- More photo sets per FBI record for criminal subjects.
- Bulk submission of photos maintained at state repositories.
- Submission of photos other than facial (i.e., scars, marks, tattoos).
A feature of the NGI IPS is the facial recognition search, another way biometrics can be used as an investigative tool. The IPS offers an automated search and response system targeted toward state and local law enforcement. Authorized law enforcement may submit a probe photo for a search against over 30 million criminal mug shot photos and receive a list of ranked candidates as potential investigative leads.
The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division offers DPI Services to further increase the deceased identification tools available to the law enforcement community and authorized medical examiners and coroners. Formerly known as the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Cold Case/Unknown Deceased Service, the DPI Services provide a fingerprint-based identification service for active and cold cases. The DPI Services uses the NGI System’s advanced search algorithms and cascades the deceased person's fingerprints against all identities, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense’s fingerprint systems. The service provides the same search to contributors submitting these requests electronically and those who submit directly to the CJIS Division. This will increase the overall identification rate for deceased identification requests. This tool will strengthen criminal investigations and humanitarian aid through the use of state-of-the-art biometric technologies.
The Next Generation Identification (NGI) Iris Service, provides a fast, accurate, and contactless biometric identification option for law enforcement and criminal justice users. The NGI Iris Service uses an iris image repository within the NGI system. All iris images enrolled in the repository are linked to a tenprint fingerprint record.
The NGI Iris Service has an automated iris search that is used for identification validation at some correctional facilities. Typically, inmates have an image of their iris scanned upon arrival. Then, when they are moved or released, staff scan the inmate’s eyes again to help ensure they are moving or releasing the correct person. In the future, this technology may also be used for moving arrestees, in court proceedings, and for probation/parole.
Once the NGI iris image repository grows, participating agencies will be able to search an iris image against the repository for an automated and contactless way to identify a subject.