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The FBI’s Monumental Move into the Digital Era

The bureau digitized more than 30 million files and some 83 million fingerprint cards in preparation for its move to the Next Generation Identification system.

The FBI is trading in rows of file cabinets filled with millions of fingerprint cards and criminal history documents for a new digital platform that will transform how the agency works and serves its customers.

Migration to the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system marks the end of an era, when employees manually filed, retrieved and annotated fingerprints. The new digital system will provide faster, more efficient fingerprint identification processing and increased search accuracy, according to the FBI.

The FBI digitized more than 30 million records and as many as 83 million fingerprint cards to prepare for the move to the new NGI system, the agency noted. The paper files were digitized and destroyed, but the FBI is holding on to fingerprint cards for John Dillinger, Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and other high-profile people.

In a video interview released by the FBI, Donna Ray, an area manager at the bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division's warehouse in Fairmont, W.Va., recalls working the night shift when she first came to the bureau in the 1970s. There were as many as 300 people searching for files during the shift. Many of those employees have worked at the FBI for years and take pride in their work, Ray says.

Digital searches have replaced manual searches. “It’s sad, but it is really a dying art,” Ray says about the old way of doing business. "It's been a good 40 years. I've been very fortunate to work at the Bureau this long. But I'm very excited about where we're going in the future."

The FBI documents its historic transition to the new NGI system in the video below.

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Aug 29 2014

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