Old fingerprinting systems are getting an upgrade. The FBI is creating a new nationwide identification program that could lead to more efficient law enforcement. It’s called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, which would include facial biometrics. The program is set to start in 2014. However, facial recognition is only the part of their new plan.
The current FBI fingerprint identification system is getting old. In addition to facial recognition, the FBI is also upgrading to a 10-point fingerprint matching system. According to Information Week, the new system will have 99 percent accuracy. NGI is said to also include identification systems for palm prints, iris scans, voice recognition and tattoos. In the future, it could include DNA as well.
While the full upgrade won’t come until 2014, some states are already trying it out. Michigan started a pilot of the facial recognition solution in February, while other states have shown interest in testing it as well. According to ZDNet and ThirdFactor, the program could significantly improve state and federal investigations.
The FBI has released some of the details on how exactly the system will work for law enforcement. Apparently, NGI’s facial recognition tools can compare an image to 12.8 million mug shots. This function could make suspect tracking easier, especially if suspects have traveled across state lines. In 2010, tests showed that these tools proved to have 92 percent accuracy within a pool of 1.6 million mug shots.
As more tests are being performed on this new technology, newer versions could improve the accuracy. Researchers have developed algorithms that use 3-D modeling, which could more accurately distinguish facial characteristics.
Of course, the FBI is already handling new concerns over the program. While civil libertarians are concerned that the technology could be used for tracking innocent civilians, the FBI has said that they will take the necessary steps to make sure that innocent citizens are not targeted for surveillance. Photos from social networking sites, surveillance cameras and other sources will not be used to create a national database.
With new technology and new forms of identification, controversy may soon follow debate. However, with the accuracy of the new program, and advancements being made to ensure that innocent people are not targeted, the FBI could be making a system that makes us all safer and more secure.