Updated: July 31, 2019 9:54:39 am
The Automated Multi-modal Biometric Identification System (or AMBIS) adopted by the Maharashtra Police will soon be replicated across the country.On Monday, Maharashtra became the first state to adopt a digital fingerprint and iris scanning system to aid police investigations. The Automated Multi-modal Biometric Identification System (or AMBIS) adopted by the Maharashtra Police will soon be replicated across the country, with the state government working with the National Crime Records Bureau in New Delhi to create standards to be used by other state police forces.
An AMBIS unit comprises a computer terminal, a camera, and iris, fingerprint, and palm scanners. It also includes a portable system to dust off and capture fingerprints from crime scenes. With the integration of the system with facial recognition from CCTV cameras, AMBIS enables the police to cross-reference and put faces to criminals whose fingerprints have been captured on paper over the decades, apart from solving fresh crimes.
AMBIS replaces the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which has been used by Indian law enforcement agencies to search finger and palm prints. However, AFIS has limited utility, providing only one-to-one fingerprint matches as compared multimodal matches possible with AMBIS. With facial recognition technology, the new system is also an upgrade on AFIS.
Indian authorities first thought of digitising fingerprints in 2015 when they were trying to gain custody of gangster Chhota Rajan in Indonesia. The Mumbai Police’s dossier against Rajan lacked the record of his fingerprint, which was captured in the 1980s. Even though the police could piece together Rajan’s fingerprint from a torn paper in Chembur’s Tilak Nagar police station, the episode underscored the need to digitise fingerprint records.
The Maharashtra Cyber Department studied models used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, and the Interpol, before formulating its own requirements. Eventually, the French company that had designed the Interpol’s biometric and facial recognition system was awarded the tender to set up AMBIS, Bal Singh Rajput, Superintendent of Police, Cyber, said. The system matches the requirements set by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The pilot project
Before Monday’s formal launch, the system was introduced at select police stations in Mumbai that have upgraded tech infrastructure such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS).
Through 2018, the cyber police department digitised over 6.5 lakh fingerprints recorded on paper since the 1950s. The task, however, was complicated by the poor condition in which most paper prints were stored, the mislabelling of prints, and the manner in which finger and palm prints were recorded several decades ago.
What happens now
According to Rajput, the older data is being continuously worked upon to increase accuracy and resemble the high-quality prints now recorded using AMBIS. Thus far, Mumbai Police have cracked 85 cases of theft and housebreaks dating back to 2014 after matching prints dusted from the scenes of crime with those digitised. The system is expected to be of help in more serious offences as its accuracy improves and the database expands.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced the implementation of the project in all 94 police stations in Mumbai. The next step will be to roll it out in the 1,160 police stations, 7 police ranges, 10 central jails, 12 police training centres, and 4 fingerprint bureaus in Maharashtra. This will happen after the system’s performance in Mumbai is reviewed and the challenges of setting it up in rural areas, addressed.
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