The FBI by mid-January will start a facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, reports Nextgov. It’s part of a $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s fingerprint database to identify suspects more quickly and accurately, partly through other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings. Often authorities will “have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don’t know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case,” said Nick Megna of the FBI’s criminal justice information services division. The new facial recognition service can help by retrieving a list of mug shots ranked in order of similarity to the features of the subject in the photo.
Today, an agent must know the name of an individual to pull up the suspect’s mug shot from among the 10 million shots stored in the bureau’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Using the new Next-Generation Identification system that is under development, analysts will be able to upload a photo of an unknown person and, within 15 minutes, get identified mugs to inspect for potential matches. Users typically will seek 20 candidates. Michigan, Washington, Florida, and North Carolina will participate in a test of the new search tool before it is offered to criminal justice professionals across the U.S. in 2014.