Florida law enforcement seeks $20M to replace, expand biometrics system
Image via AP.

Biometrics AP
Proposed new software, which would make Florida's biometrics system 'evergreen,' would cost $10 million yearly in upkeep.

Florida’s aging fingerprint-searching system could get an overdue replacement capable managing other biometrics, including facial recognition and iris scans, if lawmakers decide to finance the overhaul.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is seeking about $20 million through 2025 to cover the cost of migrating its existing Biometric Identification System (BIS) database to one stored in a Microsoft cloud. The software to be used for the system — the Multi-biometric Identification System (MBIS) — is a flagship product of French identity technology company IDEMIA.

The new system will be far faster and more capacious than the BIS system Florida has used since 2009, which is no longer upgradeable, Crime Information Bureau Chief Lucy Saunders told the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday.

It will still be able to forward data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal history background checks. It will also boast capabilities that complement facial recognition systems Florida now uses and iris-identification technologies, though neither will be active components of the state’s MBIS at first.

“The facial recognition portion of this — we’ve included that modality of capability in the system,” said Joey Hornsby, Director of Information Technology Services for FDLE. “We’re not moving forward with doing facial recognition in the system. We’ve just included it as a futureproofing so (we have it) in the eventuality that we want to do that long term.

Saunders said the modernization project will take between 25 to 30 months “in a phased approach,” costing $8.16 million this year — a sum for which FDLE has already applied — plus $11.7 million for fiscal 2024-25 and $10 million every year afterward for maintenance and support.

Lawmakers already approved $3.9 million for the project last year.

The cloud-based nature of MBIS solves a major issue that for years has plagued the system Florida currently uses, Hornsby said. By staying in constant connection with the vendor behind the software, the system can receive regular updates to the point where it will be “evergreen,” he said.

“We are some 13 years later (into using our current system, and) it’s just reached the end of its life,” he said. “The capacity of the system has been exceeded. It’s still functional, but it’s over its capacity limits, and now it’s time to re-platform onto something new that can carry on for the foreseeable future.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Chub Hunter

    January 26, 2023 at 7:34 am

    My fellow leftists this FDLE proposed new software will totally undermine our desired increase in crime and general lawlessness. We must rally against it. Our plan to instill fear into the voters with total out of control crime must not be stopped. Even though it does not make any logical sense, us leftists masters think somehow the voters will vote for leftist politicians, if they are subjected to major crime. We must oppose this proposal even though all of our other lame master plans have gone to cr@p. This increased crime plan might just be the leftist tickit to allow leftist control of the entire USA nation!!! We Rule!!!! Conservatives Drool !!!!

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