NIST releases new set of publications on AFIS interoperability for forensic examiners

March 21, 2013 - 

A new set of publications from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aims to make fingerprint matching easier and more reliable for forensic examiners.

Currently, forensic examiners must encode the distinctive features of a latent print into an AFIS in order to find a match on file. If there are different identification systems involved, notation methods and data definitions can differ from one AFIS to the next, a headache for examiners.

In 2008, in an attempt to address this issue, NIST, along with the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) convened the Latent Print AFIS Interoperability Working Group. Based on this group’s recommendations, NIST’s Law Enforcement Standards Offices (OLES) partnered with NOBLIS, a non-profit research corporation, to facilitate the Extended Feature Set (EFS), as a standard for encoding fingerprint, palmprint or footprint features, which are AFIS-agnostic.

The latest result of this partnership, says NIST, is the issuance of three fresh NIST Special Publications to aid examiners in better understanding and using the EFS. These new publications cover markup, extended ridge issues, terminology and also provisions for image-only searching.

These publications include:

NIST SP-1134 – Extended Feature Set Profile Specification

NIST SP-1151 – Markup Instructions for Extended Friction Ridge Features

NIST SP-1152 – Latent Interoperability Transmission Specification

All three publications can be downloaded from the Latent Print AFIS Interoperability Work Group website:


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Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj