IDEMIA scores $180m deal to upgrade Australia's fingerprint system

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IDEMIA scores $180m deal to upgrade Australia's fingerprint system

Will shift system to protected cloud platform.

Australia’s criminal intelligence agency will have a second go at overhauling the country’s 20-year-old national fingerprint database after being forced to terminate its previous upgrade attempt in 2018.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has revealed details of a new three year project to enhance the national automated fingerprint identification system (NAFIS) at a cost of $180 million.

NAFIS is the national capability used by police across Australia and the Department of Home Affairs to establish an individual’s identity from fingerprint and palm impressions in near real-time.

The system and its 5.2 million fingerprint sets is searched an average of 4245 times every day by policing agencies.

Dubbed NAFIS NextGen, the overhaul will see incumbent NAFIS provider IDEMIA deliver a “fully upgraded, supported system, with protected government cloud capability”, according to the ACIC.

It will also offer “advanced latent fingerprint processing and integration with partner agency systems”.

ACIC CEO Michael Phelan signed the agreement with IDEMIA last month to continue to support and enhance a “critical” system, although the value and terms of the deal were unclear at the time.

But contracts published late last week show the agency will spend close to $180 million under the new agreement to upgrade the system over the next three years and then support it until 2034.

A spokesperson told iTnews that a $32 million project services contract will see IDEMIA “upgrade and enhance the system to deliver the NAFIS NextGen capability”.

Two managed services contracts worth $14.8 million and $130.8 million will support the NAFIS “until the upgraded capability is implemented in 2023” and the “upgraded capability out to 2034”.

NAFIS NextGen comes three years after ACIC was forced to dump its former NAFIS replacement project known as the biometrics identification solution (BIS) project.

The BIS project was intended to replace NAFIS, which was first established in April 2001, with a national biometrics database that included facial recognition capabilities.

Owing to delays with the project, ACIC terminated its contract with NEC Australia for the new national biometrics database, but not before spending $34 million.

In terminating the contract, ACIC said it saved itself $47 million, though it was also forced to sign contracts with IDEMIA to the value of $54 million to continue supporting the existing system.

The national audit office later said the BIS project was “deficient in almost every significant respect”.

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