Live-Scan Fingerprinting Improves Accuracy And Saves Time

Since 1858 it has been possible to identify people based on an imprinted image of fingertip skin whorls. This procedure is accomplished by covering the end of a digit with ink from a pad, then carefully rolling that finger on a special piece of paper, creating a copy of the skin pattern. Success may require repeated attempts, and ink-stains are a common hazard. Live-scan fingerprinting increases accuracy, while eliminating the smudges.

There are few adults who have never been printed. Because the practice is so common, many feel uneasy about a corporation or governmental agency having easy access to personal, private information, including criminal history. Although there is always the possibility of system abuse, making the switch from manual, outdated technology to streamlined digital processing is a necessary transition.

Although they sound new, digital identification methods have existed for years. Biometrics, or the instant analysis of personal physical appearance, is already available to law enforcement agencies, and is vital to many advanced security setups. Eye features are compared during retinal scans, and ears are also being used similarly. Computerized vocal recording analysis is a necessary tool, and DNA is a well-known personal marker.

Although most people do not become career criminals, there are instances where taking prints is absolutely necessary. Any person who has applied for a government job, even as a part-time census worker, has faced a background check. Other job categories that absolutely require a similar investigation before hiring will even be considered include teachers, security workers, pilots, pharmacists, and many more.

In this era of big data, it is easy to fear a connected database containing universal personal identifiers linked to crimes, but a transparent, universally accessible system does not yet exist on a practical level. Each day there are multiple-thousands of requests, primarily because privacy laws prevent open sharing of confidential prints. Any time a criminal history is necessary, a new live scan must be performed and analyzed.

IAFIS, or the Integrated Automated Fingerprint System, contains nearly 50 million entries in the current data-bank. It processes requests and retrieves linked information nationwide in about thirty minutes. It is not exclusively used to check on criminal activity, but also plays a key role in processing applications for social services, licenses, and other official documents. The device doing all that work resembles small copy machine.

It is not possible simply to buy one of these used devices on the Internet to surreptitiously gain information. Most states today require approved purchases through selected vendors, and any unauthorized requests or transmissions are blocked. System components commonly include a palm and print scanner, specialized software for computer operations, a secure network, and trained operators.

No one wants to wait up to eight weeks for a simple background check, and digital scanning greatly reduces that formerly common delay. They create few errors associated with manual printing, and when a problem occurs, it can be quickly corrected. The process takes less than five minutes, and there is no danger of staining clothes or hands. Wait times are practically non-existent, and results usually arrive within 48 hours.

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