Next Generation Identification (NGI)
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.
Advanced Fingerprint Identification Technology (AFIT)
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.
Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC)
In August 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.
Latent and Palm Prints
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.
When the NGI system went fully operational, the Interstate Photo System (IPS) was also introduced. The IPS, through facial recognition, now provides a way to search millions of criminals’ photos—data the FBI has collected for decades—and generates a list of ranked candidates as potential investigative leads for authorized agencies. This is another way biometrics can be used as an investigative tool. Additionally, the Universal Face Workstation is free software available to authorized law enforcement (LE) entities that can be installed on a desktop computer. This allows LE entities without a facial recognition (FR) system to utilize the FBI’s FR capability. Further, LE entities may utilize their own FR system to connect to the IPS.
Cold Case/Unknown Deceased
To further increase the tools available to the LE community, the CJIS Division has made a commitment to establish enhanced services to assist in meeting the challenges that face the criminal justice community in the identification of cold case/unknown deceased investigations. Using the advanced search algorithms within NGI, and the ability to cascade NGI searches against the criminal and civil files, as well as event based searches, this tool will strengthen criminal investigations and increase the use of enhanced state-of-the-art biometric technologies.
The FBI deployed an Iris Pilot (IP) in September 2013 to evaluate technology, address key challenges, and develop a system capable of performing iris image recognition services. The IP is building a criminal iris repository and will eventually deploy initial matching functionality. The IP continues to provide CJIS the opportunity to assess and/or develop privacy and policy documentation, best practices for iris image capture, iris camera specification requirements, specifications for iris image compression, and a review of new and existing iris image quality metrics. Furthermore, the IP provides the CJIS Division with the opportunity to create a national iris repository that will increase the usability of iris biometrics.