The FBI’s new technology platform for storing and identifying fingerprints is now operational, the bureau announced Tuesday, March 8.

The Next Generation Identification (NGI) System adds several new biometric features and is expected to significantly reduce processing times compared to the existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), launched by the FBI in 1999.

The IAFIS houses the fingerprints and criminal histories of 66 million people, plus 25 million “civil” prints. “IAFIS processes an average of approximately 162,000 10-print submissions per day,” the FBI said. The system has been used nationwide by law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

“While IAFIS has been effective, criminal and terrorist threats have evolved over the past decade. Today’s environment demands faster and more advanced identification capabilities,” Assistant Director Daniel D. Roberts, of the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, said in a statement. He called the NGI System a “quantum leap” in fingerprint identification.

The NGI System will automate quality checks that in the past were done manually, and include better search functionality and improved processing of latent prints, improved storage of palm prints, as well as better integration of photos with fingerprint and arrest data.

The new platform will be capable of identifying fingerprints in a few as 10 minutes. The IAFIS took two hours on average.

The FBI said the NGI System will be built out to include “multimodal” biometric data, such as retina scans, scars, tattoos and facial recognition.

The new fingerprint identification technology has been in the works since 2008, when Lockheed Martin was awarded the competitive contract for the new system.