West Virginia Department of Commerce Identifying opportunity: Biometrics

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Identifying opportunity: Biometrics



Identifying Opportunity: Biometrics 

Biometrics identifies people based on physical characteristics or behavior traits.

“The FBI has been a leader in biometrics, beginning with our fingerprint and then our DNA services,” said William Mark Casey, program manager, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division/ Biometric Services Section, Biometric Center of Excellence (BCOE).

William Mark Casey, Program Manager, Criminal Justice Information Services Division

“With more than 72 million records, IAFIS is the largest criminal biometric database in the world.”

William Mark Casey, Program Manager Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division


The BCOE is the FBI’s hub for developing new biometric capabilities and integrating them into operations to solve crimes and protect national security.

The BCOE program will move into a new facility— the Biometrics Technology Center — when construction is completed in 2014. The 360,000-square-foot center is being built on the grounds of the FBI’s CJIS campus. The CJIS Division and the Department of Defense’s biometric operations will both take up residence in the new center, making joint biometric research and development efforts easier.

The CJIS Division in Clarksburg is home to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the national fingerprint and criminal history record system implemented in 1999.

As big as it is, the fingerprint database is being incrementally replaced by a new biometric advance: Next Generation Identification (NGI) Program.

When NGI reaches full operating capability in 2014, said Casey, it will provide faster identification processing and increased search capacity, including palm prints and facial recognition.

The BCOE is working to move DNA analysis out of the lab and into the field. New Rapid-DNA (R-DNA) point-of-collection devices designed to quickly process DNA are being tested in booking stations and holding facilities by law enforcement and military personnel.

Instead of waiting weeks for a backlogged lab to report results, investigators will get information rapidly — ideally in under an hour — and be able to make identifications while an individual is still in custody.

The process of testing, refining and verifying the reliability of the technology will take time.

“We are testing prototypes now and are encouraged,” Casey said. “I’m excited about it. My vision of being able to get a hit by DNA in an hour while the person is still in custody could be a reality in the field in 10 years.”

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Alcon was founded in 1945, and expanded into Huntington, W.Va., in 1977. Now a strategic manufacturing site for Alcon, the $40 million expansion into a 70,000-square-foot facility was completed in 2010.