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FBI Iris Pilot

The FBI Iris Pilot began providing iris identification services in September 2013. Agencies may enroll iris images by submitting criminal tenprint bookings with two Type-17 Iris Image records to the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. Agencies may search iris images by submitting 1-2 iris images.

Iris Recognition Overview

Iris recognition uses the features of the iris - the colored ring in the eye - to identify an individual. The iris is formed before birth and remains relatively stable throughout life. Irises are unique - even identical twins can be correctly identified with iris images.

  • Fast - Typical FBI processing takes a few seconds (search & enroll).
  • Accurate - Identification searches are fully-automated and return a single-subject.
  • Easy - Iris capture is automatic, contactless, and fast.

Use Cases

Use cases are briefly summarized here. Iris recognition is useful in scenarios requiring very fast, accurate identification. Criminal justice agencies sharing iris data from local, regional, state, tribal, and federal systems with the FBI Iris Pilot will increase iris recognition utility and may enable additional use cases.

Correctional Facilities

Correctional facilities are ideal locations to enroll iris images during existing fingerprint booking processes. Correctional facilities can use the identification service to identify inmates during movement and release. National Crime Information Center (NCIC) information provided with the search results can alert staff to outstanding wants/warrants. Additional match information including sex offender status, gang affiliation(s), and caution & medical codes enhances officer and inmate safety.

Supervised Release

The identification service can be used to reduce administrative burden by providing a quick, contactless biometric identification with NCIC information including any wants/warrants. Iris recognition also provides opportunities for additional process automation which allows more attention on supervised individuals.

Mobile Identification

The development of smaller iris cameras and mobile iris collection devices provides opportunities for mobile use of the identification service. Mobile identification is most useful in regions where the criminal justice system is already performing iris collection.

Border Security

The identification service is fast and iris images can be collected quickly with contactless cameras. Iris identification provides a faster way to screen subjects. Iris recognition also helps mitigate processing delays for individuals with damaged, worn, or mutilated fingerprints.

Investigation Searches

Unlike fingerprints, iris images are found in digital evidence but are not left on physical objects at crime scenes. Iris images from high-resolution images or videos may be suitable for providing investigative leads. Investigative searches remain an active research area being explored as part of the Pilot.

Pilot Participation

The FBI Iris Pilot provides fast, accurate iris recognition services to authorized partners including: identification searches, investigative searches, image retrieval requests, and image delete requests. Enrollment - the inclusion of iris images with criminal tenprint submissions - is already supported in the NGI system.

Iris Pilot services are provided to FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Systems Agencies (CSA) which then extend these services to local agencies. Participation is open to agencies that meet policy, security, and technical requirements. Agencies must meet policy, security, and technical requirements to participate. The FBI Programs Research and Standards Unit (PRSU) can help potential participants and CSAs to satisfy participation requirements.

Policy Requirements

The Iris Pilot is available to authorized criminal justice and law enforcement agencies for criminal justice purposes only. There are no civil services or repository.

The CSA must complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prior to the use of any Iris Pilot services. Submission of iris images as part of a criminal tenprint booking is an existing NGI service that does not require an MOU.

Security Requirements

Participants must comply with the CJIS Security Policy as well as any CSA imposed policies. These are the same security policies that apply to fingerprints.

Technical Requirements

Iris Pilot transactions use the CJIS Wide Area Network (WAN) just like criminal tenprints. The Iris Pilot Technical Specifications provide transmission formats and additional details.


Best Practices

  • NIST IREX V - Includes a poster, slideshow, and document providing guidance for iris image collection

Security Policy

Technical Standards

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