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Latent Fingerprint Quality: A Survey of Examiners

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 61 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2011 Pages: 385-419
R. Austin Hicklin; JoAnn Buscaglia; Maria Antonia Roberts; Stephen B. Meagher; William Fellner; Mark J. Burge; Matthew Monaco; David Vera; Larry R. Pantzer; Calvin C. Yeung; Ted N. Unnikumaran
Date Published
July 2011
35 pages
This paper describes a detailed survey of latent print examiners conducted to determine how examiners assess fingerprint quality during a fingerprint analysis.
A survey of latent print examiners was conducted to determine how they assess fingerprint quality. Participating examiners performed detailed anonymous assessments of both the local and overall quality characteristics of latent and exemplar fingerprint images, using a custom-designed software application. Eighty-six latent print examiners from Federal, State, local, international, and private sector laboratories each spent 8 to 12 hours assessing the quality of approximately 70 fingerprint images. The finger prints were overlapping subsets of 1,090 latent and exemplar fingerprint images derived from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Database 27 and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory dataset of images. An analysis of the results shows the extent of consistency between examiners in value determinations; the relationships between the overall perceived quality of a print and the size of clear ridge detail; and the relationships between quality, size, and correct pattern classification. An analysis of the examiners' subjective assessments of fingerprint quality revealed information useful for the development of guidelines, metrics, and software tools for assessing fingerprint quality. (Published Abstract)