USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Exploring the fingerprint whorld.

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Christopher J. Davis

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The paper discusses the problematic nature of information systems evaluation by using a case study to highlight the need for a systemic view of the development life cycle in order to understand and address the partitioning of activities, including evaluation. The paper explores ways of making evaluation more meaningful for participants and practitioners. The identification of offenders using fingerprint detail is a well-established forensic technique. Fingerprints are unique to the individual and, as a consequence, an authoritative means of proving identity. The practice of fingerprint identification has evolved over the last 100 years and, despite the emergence of new techniques such as DNA profiling, is a mainstay of forensic identification. Competence in fingerprint identification requires good visual acuity and a meticulous attention to detail which takes years to acquire. Fingerprint work is a craft, and the training strongly resembles an apprenticeship. These features of the work produce a relatively closed world, populated by practitioners who are styled by the courts and one another as experts. The fingerprint experts have established practices and language which have ensured its longevity and acceptance by the courts. Despite the adherence to traditional practices and language, fingerprint people are highly innovative. Information technology, particularly Automated Fingerprint Recognition (AFR) systems have featured in their work in Europe for many years, enabling them to search a database of fingerprint images for candidate matches, allowing fingerprints to be used more pro-actively in the investigation of crime. The National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) is seen as the next generation AFR, providing access to the whole of the national fingerprint collection in England and Wales for the first time. NAFIS functionality can be explained during the presentation. The question of evaluating such specialist information systems recurs in the literature. It is argued that making judgements, as we do when we evaluate, requires that we first make sense: we must learn about and understand the world within which the system is used. The presentation shows how Repertory Grid Analysis (RGA) has contributed to the processes of learning and setting the agenda in a study of the impacts of NAFIS.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through the publisher.




Operational Research Society

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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