FBI’s databaseFBI adds biometrics to national databases to improve accuracy

Published 6 December 2011

To help improve the speed and accuracy of its national criminal records database, the FBI is increasingly incorporating biometrics technology


To help improve the speed and accuracy of its national criminal records database, the FBI is increasingly incorporatingbiometrics technology.

Currently the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) maintains several databases that act as a central repository for law enforcement officers around the country, providing them with real-time data on an individual’s criminal history, stolen property, missing persons, and other pertinent records.

Each day CJIS receives tens of thousands of requests for information electronically, which it must answer quickly and accurately.

With the help of a fingerprint-matching algorithm, installed earlier this year, CJIS has been able to distribute more information more accurately than before.

According to Special Agent David Cuthbertson, the assistant director of CJIS,  the division is now able to process 140,000 requests a day through the system, twice as many compared to before the system was installed. In addition, the algorithm allows the FBI to match fingerprints with a 99 percent rate of accuracy compared to 92 percent.

That’s a significant increase in accuracy, and for police officers on the street it translates into a greater ability to identify an individual claiming to be a different person,” Cuthbertson said.

The FBI is currently working to add facial-recognition technology as well as iris-scanning capabilities to its biometrics matching system along with palm prints.

To assist the FBI with its biometrics research, the agency has teamed with the Department of Defense and the two departments are building a special Biometrics Technology Center at the FBI’s campus in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

The center is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014 and is aimed at developing advance biometric solutions.

It will be a tremendous resource to carry us into the future,” Cuthbertson said.