Automated Fingerprint Identification System

What Does Automated Fingerprint Identification System Mean?

An automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is a system that uses biometric technology to store digital imagery of individual fingerprints for database comparison to produce a match. Fingerprints are considered a foolproof method for identification purposes because each fingerprint is unique. As digital technology progresses, fingerprinting is increasingly being used as a fraud prevention measure. This type of technological safeguard may be stored with personal data, such as passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN). Live scanning, which offers real-time fingerprint identification, complements AFIS technology.


AFIS is gaining popularity as a method used to identify individual user logons.

Techopedia Explains Automated Fingerprint Identification System

In 1997, the FBI first began using this technology in South Dakota to identify alleged criminals. Since then, AFIS has expanded usage to other types of identification, such as recording employee whereabouts, signing into personal banking information and even providing systems for ensuring that secure corporation data is accessed by authorized employees only.

Electronic imaging capabilities are also increasing as vendors work to improve AFIS technology. Some believe that eventually, AFIS may replace signatures.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…