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Indian police deploy portable fingerprint biometric scanners and app to ID suspects

Biometric equipment standards defined
Indian police deploy portable fingerprint biometric scanners and app to ID suspects

Police in Karnataka, India, have deployed portable scanners and a new app connected to the force’s automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) to check the criminal records of suspected individuals on-the-go via finger biometrics.

The news was reported by The Indian Express, which said the portable fingerprint scanners have access to a database of over 200,000 fingerprints of criminals involved in property crimes in the area.

The move is part of a project called Mobile-Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (M-CCTNS), which reportedly saw the deployment of roughly 2,500 new biometric devices to police stations across the state.

Each scanner costs INR 2,500 (roughly US$31), with four or five devices being provided to police stations with large numbers of cases and two each to other, smaller stations.

The manufacturer of the biometric scanners is not revealed in the report. A video from ETV Bharat of a similar system in use in Bengaluru appears to show scanners with Light-Emitting Sensor technology, meaning from Integrated Biometrics.

Initially deployed to identify burglars based on prints collected by police forces from crime scenes, the AFIS is now also being used by patrolling police officers to identify people found to be moving suspiciously.

According to The Indian Express, the biometric devices have scanned 93,645 fingerprints over the last year-and-a-half and found 3,294 matches with criminal records.

The software for the finger biometric system – a mobile app — was created by Capulus Technologies, a technology partner involved in the M-CCTNS project.

Karnataka police launch M-CCTNS app

The company recently published a case study about the M-CCTNS app, highlighting its features and role within the project.

According to the Capulus Technologies write-up, the M-CCTNS app is modular. It offers police officers real-time access to criminal profiles and history alongside crime mapping and analytics capabilities.

Further, the app offers a feature to help officers to coordinate arrests across jurisdictions, perform vehicle crime searches, and access missing person and unnatural death record (UDR) information.

As mentioned above, the M-CCTNS app is also a counterpart to the portable biometric scanning devices. The software communicates with external portable fingerprint scanners connected to the mobile phone and provides an interface to scan individual fingerprints.

The app then communicates the captured fingerprint to a central biometric gateway through application programming interfaces (API) and sends it to AFIS, which performs fingerprint identification on the database and gets the result.

Suppose the M-CCTNS application finds a positive ID. In that case, fingerprint results are linked to the criminal’s demographic details in the Person of Interest module, and a related criminal profile is displayed on the officer’s phone.

Three other states are reported to be in the advanced stages of deploying the M-CCTNS system.

India’s new law specifies biometric equipment standards

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act 2022 came into effect in India in August, officially replacing the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920.

Initially passed in April 2022, the legislation empowers police to collect biometric data but, more broadly, also makes it mandatory for the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to develop a standard operating procedure to specify equipment and devices for collecting biometric data.

This will include the digital and physical format in which the measurements will be taken, according to a recent analysis by The Economic Times.

Additionally, the new law asks the NCRB to list ways of handling and storing data in states and union territories (UT) across India.

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