The FBI’s Operational Technology Division (OTD) is a driving force behind the FBI’s facial services. The OTD has provided guidance and valuable lead information to support criminal and national security investigations and courtroom testimony to domestic and international investigations for more than 50 years. This forensic service offering began as a side-by-side comparison of crime scene photographic images (typically bank robbery photographs) with known photographs of suspects and subjects for the purpose of associating the persons depicted at a crime scene with a known image. During the ensuing years, FBI experts developed protocols and procedures to assist in these comparisons and also developed lists of physical characteristics to use when attempting to identify a person. Today, the FBI continues to perform video and image analysis of faces in its accredited digital forensic laboratory, one of only a few in the world, for intelligence and criminal investigative purposes and leads the way in pursuit of automated facial biometric capabilities.
The FBI’s long-term vision is to have an automated, facial recognition capability. Although this capability does not yet exist, the FBI initiated the Next Generation Identification (NGI) ProgramNGI will provide an incremental replacement of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the national fingerprint and criminal history record system implemented in 1999. When the NGI system reaches full operating capabilities in 2014, it will provide faster identification processing, increased search capacity, a multimodal framework by incorporating palmprints and face, which will include a facial searching capability, while also expanding the functionality for fingerprint and latent print processing.