NEC, Identix

NEC, Identix Team to Aid Illinois' Cook County

By Andrea Novotny
Staff Writer

NEC Technologies and Identix Inc. have been tapped to set up a criminal apprehension booking system at police agencies in and around Chicago that could wind up being the largest such installation in the nation, company officials said.

NEC's LS-21 fingerprint verification workstation, which integrates its proprietary automated fingerprint identification system with Identix' Live-Scan technology, was chosen by the Cook County's Sheriff's Department for a countywide law enforcement network earlier this year.

The system is expected to be in full operation by September, said Shirley Chen, NEC AFIS marketing communications specialist.

Identix Inc.'s Live-Scan technology has been integrated with NEC Technologies' proprietary automated fingerprint identification system.

The Cook County project is the second partnership between NEC Technologies and Identix to use the LS-21 workstations, Chen said. The two firms first teamed late last year to provide Texas with a statewide system that uses more than 40 workstations, Chen said. The project also is the fruit of a five-year strategic alliance between the two companies.

The system, being developed under a $9 million contract from Illinois' Cook County, will store mug shots of suspects in a database along with their fingerprints. All of the hard copy files will be converted into electronic files.

More than 100 police agencies of the county's Sheriff's Department will use the LS-21 fingerprint verification workstation systems to scan fingerprints and take digital mug shots of suspects. They will form the core of the department's criminal apprehension booking system.

Using this system, an arresting officer can punch in a suspect's name and quickly receive possible fingerprint matches and other information under that name. The software automatically searches the police department's database, helping police officers identify repeat offenders and suspects who have been double booked.

As prime contractor, Itasca, Ill.-based NEC Technologies will install more than 100 workstations, which will combine NEC's AFIS software with fingerprint scanning and mug-shot technology from Identix Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Illinois, Cook County and Chicago police already use NEC's automated fingerprint identification software. All of the workstations will be networked into a central database for Cook County.

As a subcontractor, Identix also will supply up to 40 single-finger scanners that will be used in five courthouses, two county correctional facilities and the county jail to verify the identity of inmates.

NEC Technologies, a $1.3 billion manufacturer of computer peripherals and other technology products, has been selling its fingerprint identification systems to the public sector since 1971.

NEC law enforcement systems are used in 11 countries and more than 30 states, including a multistate AFIS network started in 1989 that links nine western states to a central database of more than 2 million fingerprint records, Chen said.

The law enforcement market for automated fingerprint identification systems is expected to grow from about $120 million in 1997 to $250 million in 2000 and likely will exceed $300 million in 2002, according to a report published in November by Salomon Smith Barney Holdings Inc., New York.

But commercial applications markets for fingerprint verification are expected to far exceed those of law enforcement in the coming years, the report said. New applications in banking, computer network access and electronic commerce promise to expand the market for fingerprint and biometric devices from $145 million in 1997 to nearly $1 billion in 2001, according to the report.

Identix has positioned itself for the growing market by forming strategic partnerships with the large automated fingerprint identification system integrators, NEC and North American Morpho Systems Inc., Tacoma, Wash., which receive the majority of state contracts, the report said.

"Government business [for Identix] has grown faster ... than the commercial sector," said Randall Fowler, president and chief executive officer of Identix. But that will change, he said. "I expect ... the commercial sector will overtake the government sector in the near future."

"Having [NEC's] sales force in addition to ours and being able to sell our technology under [NEC's] label obviously will expand our markets considerably," Fowler said.


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