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New technology vital part of safeguarding information

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- A new, digital fingerprinting system being utilized by the 28th Bomb Wing Information Protection Office is helping to increase efficiency, reduce costs, enhance customer service and ultimately safeguard information.

The Touchprint 4100, by L-1 Identity Solutions, is a live-scan fingerprinting system that allows security professionals to electronically capture fingerprints and palm prints, correct any errors and forward the information to requestors in real time. Fingers are rolled on a glass platen, which allows the fingerprints to be digitized. The system automatically scans for smudges or other problems, and will alert the user to rescan the fingerprint if there are errors.

"It's a quick, clean system that allows us to capture, review and send files to the Office of Personnel Management in a very short amount of time," said Ian Smith, 28th BW IP personnel security assistant. "We are able to capture high-quality images and have overcome the traditional challenges associated with capturing fingerprints."

In the past, gathering fingerprints involved ink and cards, and was often a lengthy process.

"After we would take the prints, we would send them off to the requestor, and it would take up to two weeks for them to be reviewed and processed. If there were any errors on the cards, the agency would send them back and we would have to go through the entire process again, which was an inconvenience for our customers and extra work for everyone," added Mr. Smith. "This system eliminates all of that."

Without question, the new system is one of the most important tools the IP staff use to accomplish its mission, according to Thomas Fisher, 28th BW IP chief of information protection. Changes to the Air Force Classified Materials Protection Program forged the creation of the Information Protection Office at Ellsworth. The base IP office stood up in December 2008 and brought the base's information security initiative out from under its longtime security forces umbrella, and realigned it under the 28th BW.

"Our mission is to prevent the compromise, loss, unauthorized access, destruction, distortion or non-accessibility of information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, over the lifecycle of the information. This includes taking and overseeing actions to regulate access to sensitive information, controlled unclassified information and classified information produced by, entrusted to or under the control of the government," Mr. Fisher said. "Properly identifying individuals is the critical, first line of defense to safeguarding classified information."

Gary Parker, 28th BW IP personnel security specialist, added that eventually all offices and agencies will be using similar systems which will help increase communication and expedite requests.

"This system is one example of technology that is helping to revolutionize information security," Mr. Parker said. "It's a big step forward."