Law enforcement agencies were the first and most experienced users of live scan fingerprinting on criminal (and non-criminal) subjects. Biometrics has a history as old as fingerprint recognition, dating back to the nineteenth century. Biometrics is used in law enforcement applications for criminal identification, crime scene investigations, forensics, criminal and employment background checks, and so on.
Fingerprint recognition has progressed from the era of ink-stained fingers to the era of sanitizer-rubbed fingers before placing them on a live scan fingerprinting machine. This is not to say that ink-on-paper fingerprinting is extinct.
Law enforcement agencies such as the FBI continue to accept fingerprint cards, which can be used to make ink fingerprint impressions and send for non-criminal applications (such as background checks, etc.). However, over the years, live scan fingerprinting has become a preferred method of capturing fingerprints by law enforcement agencies and people who use live scan fingerprinting services.
This article covers all you need to know regarding live scan fingerprint identification and answers any questions you may have:
What is live scan fingerprinting?
Live scan fingerprinting is capturing fingerprints with a live scan fingerprinting machine. A live scan fingerprint scanner resembles a standard fingerprint scanner but may include additional equipment (e.g., a laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) and software to process live scans.
Because the live scan process is done electronically, no ink is used to capture fingerprints; before the introduction of live scan fingerprinting, law enforcement agencies relied solely on the ink-based fingerprint. This type of fingerprint capture involves staining fingers with ink and pressing them against paper to create a fingerprint impression. This process appears to be simple, and it is, but it has several pitfalls and quality issues that will be discussed later.
Fingerprint scanners come in various sizes and shapes, ranging from bulky 10-print scanners to tiny mobile phone scanners. However, live scan fingerprinting cannot be performed with any fingerprint device. A live scan fingerprinting equipment can meet recommended specifications to ensure that captured live scan prints are fully compatible with law enforcement systems.
Set minimum required specifications for live scan tasks so that the live scan fingerprinting objectives are met correctly.
History of live scan fingerprinting
Live scan fingerprinting has only been around for a couple of decades. Ink-based impressions were the only way to capture fingerprints before the availability of live scan fingerprinting equipment and technology.
Live scan fingerprinting is more than just setting up live fingerprinting equipment and electronically capturing fingerprints. It necessitates a robust and widespread infrastructure that allows fingerprints of individuals to be collected from various locations and stored in a centralized/decentralized location.
This is usually accomplished by establishing an AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). A fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is a computerized system that sorts, compares, and exchanges digital fingerprint data. Because there can be a considerable number of records to process, AFIS is generally supported by superior computational power.
Law enforcement agencies must also keep a database of identities linked to biometric identifiers. The FBI has the most comprehensive database of biometric identities, including fingerprints and other biometric identifiers. The FBI had begun work on its IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System).
In the late 1960s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began putting significant effort and manpower into developing an automated system for fingerprint recognition. In 1969, the FBI awarded a contract to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for research on fingerprint recognition automation.
The FBI began pushing for fingerprint recognition in 1975 by funding the development of fingerprint sensors. Because of the cost of digital storage, only the minutiae of fingerprint processing were saved. The FBI’s first operational algorithm was the NIST-developed fingerprint machine algorithm M40.
IAFIS, the FBI’s large-scale computerized fingerprint identification system, went live in 1999. The FBI can now search fingerprints collected on any system, thanks to IAFIS. It also enabled the integration of various systems. With AFIS, IAFIS could accept electronic submissions of fingerprint services (for example, criminal history, background check, etc.).
Who needs a live scan anyway?
Many civil and criminal applications now require live scan fingerprinting as a regulatory/legal requirement. For example, when a criminal is booked, law enforcement agencies require fingerprints/palm prints or other biometrics to enroll the criminal in their database or search for any existing records.
Similarly, many civil identity applications (such as background screening) may require live scanning. Many job types, such as government, finance, banking, daycare, old age homes, and so on, require background checks to ensure that criminals or sex offenders are screened out of the process.
Who provides the live scan fingerprinting services mainly?
A third-party service provider who is an approved e-Fingerprint service provider (also known as an FBI-approved channeler) can assist with capturing and submitting live scan fingerprints. The third-party vendor must have FBI IAFIS certified live scan fingerprinting equipment and access to the FBI’s system (for electronic submissions). You can choose KK Notary Services’ LiveScan Fingerprinting service for the best service.
If you are not living in a remote area, there are plenty of live scan fingerprinting locations. These third-party service providers can be found near most metropolitan areas in the United States. A quick Google search will help you find a live scan fingerprinting location near you.
There are also service providers with a nationwide network that offer live scan fingerprinting. UPS, for example, provides live scan fingerprinting services to customers at UPS locations nationwide.
Some service providers will perform live scan fingerprinting at your home or office at a convenient time. These companies are known as onsite mobile fingerprinting live scan service providers. For people short on time, onsite mobile live scan fingerprinting is more convenient and can save them time. Once scheduled, a professional fingerprinting operator will arrive at your location with a mobile live scan fingerprint unit at the specified time.
In addition to the live scan fingerprinting machine, these professionals carry standard FBI (FD-258), FINRA, and NFA cards in case your fingerprints need to be printed on an FBI card. On the other hand, onsite mobile fingerprint service providers charge more than in-store live scan fingerprinting services.