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Fingerprint Comparison - How to kick the magnifying glass habit

Author: huifan   Time: 2017-08-16

There is no doubt that using a magnifying glass for fingerprint comparison is doing you harm. How can it not when you need to lean over a desk for extended periods in a way that will horrify any OH&S specialists. Even raised platforms on which you can rest your magnifying glass will cause neck and back injury over a life time of use, although they are certainly better than nothing. The only sure way to avoid this kind of injury is to convert to a fully digital environment and conduct fingerprint comparisons on a monitor correctly configured for the most ergonomic posture.
Converting to a fully digital comparison environment requires planning and some expense. The payoff is definitely worth it in reduced absenteeism, greater case file throughput, biometric attendance machine and happier and more productive employees. The following is some advice on how to go about the conversion.
The first step is to capture your crime scene/lab photographs digitally. Fortunately this is now almost universal. Some agencies still use lifters or a combination of digital and lifters. Lifters can now be easily captured on a scanner or on desk mounted cameras. The price of these devices has declined remarkably in past years just as digital cameras have.
The second step is to create a common repository of digital images web based time clock software that can easily be accessed employee scheduling by your Fingerprint Operators. The price of storage has declined to a point where the cost is well within the range of most budgets. A separate central server or one created within existing PC infrastructure can now be set up with little or no additional cost. Many people have heard of Moore’s law which shows the huge increases of processing speeds, however the story of the declining cost of digital storage is also remarkable. In 1981 the cost of storing 1 Gigabyte of data was $300,000, today it is 10cents. PC’s with a Terabyte of data storage capacity are becoming standard.
The third step is to design a workflow that actually makes the process of comparing two digital fingerprints on a monitor easier than working with paper photographs and physical fingerprint forms. This is probably the most difficult as it requires a complete rethink on how to do business. Again most agencies already have some form of on-line case management system. So the task here in many cases is to make use of what you already have in place. The electronic keypad door lock other piece to this work flow puzzle is a tool to view the two images side by side on a monitor. These tools are quite inexpensive and are available from vendors on line. Photoshop can also be used for this purpose however, they have recently changed their business model so that ongoing costs have made an impact on the cost benefits of going down this path.
The fourth step is just plain old change management 101. Managers should bring your finger scan staff with you. Prepare the ground before hand and emphasis the benefits and provide a clear pathway to a better way of doing things. There are obvious efficiency gains but the very real OH&S benefits should be the number one stated benefit and it should be repeated at every opportunity. It’s hard to argue with a manager who obviously has your best interests at heart. Managing up requires an emphasis on the benefits of reduced costs over the long term. Staff retention due to fewer health issues leads to the reduction in costs of training replacement staff. Fewer sick days leads to greater throughput per operator and higher clear up rates leading to higher apprehension rates and reduced crime, etc. Who can argue against that?
The move to a fully digital environment is inevitable and I think most people who work in the Fingerprint comparison field know this. The question for many agencies is when not if to adopt this digital environment. I hope this article has provided some food for thought for those who are looking at making the move. Contact me if you need more detail on how to make the move to digital.