NSW Police will deploy as many as 1000 smartphone-compatible fingerprint scanners to keep its officers on the front line for longer.
The force has handed NEC a $4.7 million contract to purchase and deploy the portable devices, more than two-and-a-half years after it approached technology vendors.
The scanners were first promised by the government in the lead up to the 2015 state election, as part of the $100 million ‘policing for tomorrow’ fund.
NSW Police initially went looking for FBI-certified devices to work in unison with its fleet of Samsung Note 4 smartphones.
A spokesperson told iTnews that the new scanners were compatible with police issued smartphones or tablets through “a proprietary app”, avoiding the “need for hardware modification”.
The devices will allow officers to register and verify identities on the go, removing the need to return to the station, as well as be alerted to outstanding warrants and other information on suspects.
“This pairing will enable almost instantaneous searching and enrolment of biometric data on national databases by officers in the field,” the spokesperson said.
Such databases include the national automated fingerprint identification system (NAFIS) and – when complete – Australia's biometrics identification services platform.
The move to conduct more work remotely falls broadly in line with the centralised model of policing that NSW cops are moving to adopt.
The scanners are also a "significant" improvement on the previous fingerprint devices provided by Morpho (now IDEMIA).
“The new device provides a significantly enhanced fingerprint recording capability equivalent to what has previously only been possible from non-portable equipment, such as Livescan,” the spokesperson said.
"It also provides an improved user interface with an in-built quality control capability which facilitates faster capture and searching of high quality biometric data.”
This will help the force to boost the number of fingerprints it has on file, in line with the original brief.
NSW Police currently have powers to take fingerprints on arrest, but may also asks for a person to consent to prints being provided if a Criminal Infringement Notice or Court Attendance Notice has been served.
Law enforcement and public safety agencies in other jurisdictions have taken slightly different approaches to accessing biometric information.
The federal Department of Home Affairs, for instance, has trialled using iPhones - or what the it calls Enhanced Biometrics at the Border (EBatB) - as portable biometrics scanners.