February 12, 2018
UK police are testing two hundred and fifty handheld devices which can fingerprint unknown persons and compare them to a database of 12 million records in under a minute (instead of an hour). Assuming the initial test goes off without a hitch in West Yorkshire, the devices will then be rolled out across the country by the UK’s Home Office.
The scanners, which cost less than $300 each, can be used to take two fingerprints from a suspect, which are then compared against two national databases called IABS and IDENT1 using a Biometric Services Gateway described as “a common platform for future biometrics services.”
The IABS database is comprised of processed asylum seekers, while IDENT1 – developed and managed by Northrop Grumman, maintains a database of people who have previously been arrested in the UK.
Officers will only resort to fingerprint scanning if they cannot identify an individual by other means, says Clive Poulton, who helped manage the project at the Home Office. The devices might be used in cases where someone has no identifying information on them, or appears to be giving police a fake name. “[Police] can now identify the person in front of them – whether they are known to them or not known to them, and then they can deal with them,” Poulton says.
Hmm, we wonder who this system might be aimed at?
When the program dubbed “Project MIDAS” (Mobile IDentification At Scene) was announced in 2008, the Home Office estimated the initial phase of the project would cost £30m-£40m ($41 – $55 million USD) – and The Guardian noted that it would only have access to 7.5 million records instead of the 12 million announced with the roll out.
Geoff Whitaker, a senior technology officer with the NPIA, told the Biometrics 2008 conference that Project Midas would save enormous amounts of police time and reduce the number of…