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Northrop Grumman Wins U.K. Fingerprinting Job

By Roseanne Gerin
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, December 20, 2004; Page E04

Northrop Grumman Information Technology of Herndon won a $244 million contract to provide advanced biometric identification technology to United Kingdom law enforcement agencies.

The contract, known as IDENT1, spans eight years with three additional option years. It follows on the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System contract in the United Kingdom that Northrop Grumman won in January 1995.

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Northrop Grumman officials said demand for biometrics-related technology is growing worldwide, where opportunities are multiplying in the military, law enforcement and other homeland security areas. The United Kingdom, for instance, has biometrics projects underway for national identity cards and for e-Borders, the British version of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (U.S.-VISIT) program, which uses biometric identifiers to track travelers entering and leaving the country.

"While the need for this kind of work has always been there, the attention to it has been heightened by homeland security concerns," said Rod Forry, Northrop Grumman's program manager for the contract.

The National Automated Fingerprint Identification System connects 46 police forces and associated agencies in England and Wales. It captures fingerprint images and transmits them electronically to a national database. The image-based fingerprint data are searched to identify suspects. The results are exchanged with the Police National Computer, which holds the United Kingdom's demographic criminal database.

Northrop Grumman's information technology division will replace the current system for England and Wales as well as the current electronic fingerprint identification system used by Scotland's police forces.

One new capability is that police will routinely be able to identify suspects throughout the U.K. mainland using a unified collection of both finger and palm prints.

It will allow biometrics information to be searched and fused, as well as provide a link to other types of law enforcement data, such as vehicle information, phone numbers and property information, Forry said. Digital finger and palm prints collected by police and scanned from existing files will be sent electronically to a central database.

The program will expand beyond biometric fingerprinting to include better data-sharing among new and legacy systems and to exchange information with cross-border systems, Forry said.

Other features to be added later include mobile fingerprint-checking, facial imaging and video identification. Iris scan capability and interfaces with other electronic capabilities, such as DNA matching, also may be added, Forry said.

Northrop Grumman's team includes Sagem S.A. of Paris; Smiths Heimann Biometrics GmbH of Jena, Germany; Phoenix IT Services Ltd. of Northampton, England; and Energis Communications Ltd. of London. These companies provide palm and fingerprint recognition technology and scanning devices, onsite system maintenance and installation, and a communications backbone.

The contract work will employ about 200 people, about half of them in the United Kingdom. Work also will be done in Fairfax County and at the locations of Northrop Grummam's teammates.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more details on this and other technology contracts, go to www.washingtontechnology.com.

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