Police in New South Wales are in the market for a portable fingerprint scanner. NSW Police are looking for vendors able to offer devices that can share biometric data with Samsung Note 4 smartphones, which the police force has also been deploying among its officers.
The main aim is to enable police to conduct on-the-spot identity checks, freeing up large amounts of time that are currently spent escorting criminal suspects to police stations to check their identities against the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The move is part of a broader, $100-million-dollar “policing for tomorrow” project undertaken this year by the New South Wales government, and in keeping with the associated principles the NSW Police are looking for a high level of technological sophistication. In addition to Samsung Note 4 compatibility, the devices must also be FBI-certified and must comply with that standards of CrimTrac, the country’s police information-sharing agency.
The Australian government has been moving aggressively in adopting biometric technology for law enforcement and security purposes, with a major bill on biometric border security having recently passed the country’s senate. While studies have found Australians to have favorable attitudes toward such measures during times of crisis, there has also been strenuous ongoing debate in the country about associated privacy and civil rights issues. The NSW Police efforts in this case are fairly incremental, though, and are unlikely to spark a major controversy, at least until the police actually start using fingerprint sensors in the field, in which case it will depend to some extent on the manner in which that is undertaken.