Need for automated fingerprinting increasing

Behind a spike in the demand for automated fingerprint identification systems are the great strides in technology as well as the transition to fully digital processing, a new study has found.

The Reston, Va., market research firm Input Inc. estimates that state and local government spending on automated fingerprint identification system, or AFIS, technologies will reach $160 million by 2010.

Within that market, justice and public safety agencies eventually will spend $100 million annually, while agencies in other levels of government will spend $60 million annually, Input said.

'In state and local [government], this transition marks the beginning of a true lifecycle-oriented approach to justice and public safety AFIS that will involve fewer long-term overhauls and more technology upgrades and refreshes every three to five years,' said Chris Dixon, senior industry analyst at Input.

The more sophisticated jurisdictions also will begin implementing 'vendor neutral' and standards-based architectures that will enable them to plug and play various AFIS components rather than find themselves locked into a proprietary system, he said.

The market growth for AFIS outside of the state and local justice and public safety vertical reflects an increasing demand for immigration and visitor control. For example, the FBI and Homeland Security Department are already shifting fingerprint records as part of the FBI's Next Generation Identification initiative.

Beyond that, a growing need to share fingerprint records across all governmental boundaries will drive an emerging need for AFIS interoperability for latent fingerprint queries. Latent fingerprints are crucial in identifying individuals with criminal records whose prints are not on file at the national level.

At this time it is not feasible for any single index or series of indexes to contain all the fingerprints that could be screened as part of investigations and background checks, Dixon said.

But greater interoperability is certainly an attainable goal. 'The backlogs are immense, but recent advances in middleware and Internet-based technologies have made interoperability more feasible,' he said.

William Welsh is the deputy editor of Government Computer News' affiliate publication, Washington Technology.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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