A look at the FBI’s big, bad identification system

Next Generation Identification uses a variety of high-tech tools and algorithms to deal with criminal behavior

Next Generation Identification
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This month the FBI pronounced its powerful new crime fighting weapon -- the Next Generation Identification -- is at full operational capability. NGI replaced the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the Bureau's longstanding repository for fingerprints. But that's not all it does. NGI uses a variety of high-tech tools and algorithms to combat all manner of offenses. Here we take a look at some of the tools the FBI will be using.

Next Generation Identification system

The data center at the Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia is home to the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI.

Next Generation Identification system
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According to he FBI, the expanded capabilities of Next Generation Identification (NGI) have reduced the margin of error in identifying criminals. NGI's biometric modalities include not only fingerprints, but also palm prints, mug shots, and scars that, when combined, can present a compelling case. Steve Morris, assistant director of CJIS, said NGI is not a new FBI authority; rather, it is a tool that takes advantage of new technologies. Here, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confers with FBI Director James Comey (L) before testifying at a House Homeland Security hearing in Washington.

Next Generation Identification system

The FBI's Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC). Through a RISC search, advanced fingerprint matching software compares a subject's fingerprints against those of Wanted Persons, Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorists, Sex Offender Registry subjects, and other persons of special interest.

Next Generation Identification system

License Plate Readers (LPRs) capture license plate images by using external trigger signals. LPRs may be mounted on patrol vehicles or placed in fixed sites such as at border crossings, interstate highway on-ramps, and toll booth plazas.

Next Generation Identification system

National Palm Print System: In May 2013, the FBI announced it would expand beyond traditional finger and thumbprint capabilities to include palms. The majority of prints left at crime scenes contain hand ridges and palm prints.

Next Generation Identification system

The FBI maintains the largest DNA repository in the world: the National DNA Index System (NDIS). It contains more than 9,812,200 offender profiles, 1,181,300 arrestee profiles, and 441,200 forensic profiles as of July 2012. NDIS facilitates the exchange and comparison of DNA profiles at the national level. It is the highest of three tiers supported by CODIS. CODIS is an automated DNA information processing and telecommunications system which has produced more than 185,000 hits, assisting in more than 177,500 law enforcement investigations as of July 2012.

Next Generation Identification system

Rap Back: Entities that conduct background checks on individuals holding positions of trust (teachers, camp counselors) can receive notifications if the individual is subsequently involved in criminal activity. Launched earlier this year, Rap Back is named for the process of reporting back when a person is involved in criminal activity, the FBI stated.

Next Generation Identification system

Interstate Photo System (IPS): Launched this year, NGI's facial recognition capability provides a way to search millions of mug shots or images associated with criminal identities for potential matches. Note that civil files (such as those in Rap Back) and criminal mug shots reside in a repository separated by identity group, so an innocent schoolteacher's image isn't going to appear when the system returns an array of possible candidates in a criminal query. "If law enforcement submits that photo, they're going to get back possible candidates from the criminal file," the FBI said. "They’re not getting the ones from the civil file."

Next Generation Identification system

Advanced Fingerprint Identification Technology will provide faster, more efficient IAFIS identification processing, increased search accuracy, improved latent processing services, and will allow for seamless searches of ten-flat fingerprint impressions for noncriminal justice purposes. (See below tables for IAFIS and NGI response times.)

Next Generation Identification system
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Rows of file cabinets in FBI facilities in West Virginia have been rendered obsolete in the FBI's effort to digitize decades of fingerprint cards, criminal history folders, and civil files. Here's a video about one person's experience.

Next Generation Identification system

In a cavernous warehouse in Fairmont, W.Va., FBI employees who have spent the better part of their careers searching through files have spent the past few months preparing them for destruction. They are masters of the Bureau's unique manual filing system, which is now fully digital.