National crime data authority CrimTrac has commenced a refresh of Australia’s national fingerprint database, used by police and law enforcement agencies to match collected biometrics to criminals and suspects.
CrimTrac has operated the national automated fingerprint identification system (NAFIS) since 1987, and is the custodian of 6.5 million sets of prints from more than 3.8 million individuals. The database is searched more than two million times every year.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan first announced the agency’s intention to market-test the deal close to a year ago.
CrimTrac switched to its current NAFIS vendor, Morpho, in 2001, and the existing $30.4 million contract is due to expire in May 2017, according to tender documents.
The French supplier will be extra keen to win back the work after losing its lucrative smart gates deal with Customs to rival VisionBox earlier this year.
CrimTrac has seized on the contract renewal as an opportunity to bundle a new facial recognition capability into the NAFIS database.
It has invited tenderers to outline their offers for either a two-in-one fingerprint and facial capability or two standalone biometric functions.
A CrimTrac spokeswoman told iTnews the planned addition to the system was not related to a national facial recognition interface that was agreed to by law enforcement chiefs at the annual Law, Crime and Community Safety Council meeting in May.
That interface will focus on the verification of government-issued identities, largely drawing on drivers licence and passport images.
The new facial recognition capability, however, will give state and federal police the ability to share their respective criminal facial recognition databases, which CrimTrac estimates contain about 12 million images collectively.
Tender documents forecast that by the time the deal is complete in May 2016, all but two CrimTrac partner agencies will have electronic facial recognition capabilities in place.
The new system will be open for use by all state, territory and federal police plus the Department of Immigration and other Commonwealth agencies.