Fingerprint Comparison in a Di...

Fingerprint Comparison in a Digital Age | John Patrick Moloney

Expert Profile: 

John Patrick Moloney is a Director of Forensic Comparison Software Company in Australia. He has over 20 years of experience as a Latent Fingerprint Examiner with 10 of those years managing the Fingerprint section at Northern Territory Police, The Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Immigration Department. In 2005 he has introduced Forensic Comparison Software into the work practices of the Australian Federal Police.  This software later went on radically to change the work practices of fingerprint technicians in Australia. In 2010 John funded Forensic Comparison Software Company along with his Son. Today this software is being used by close to 50 agencies worldwide including all Australian police and border agencies, UK Scotland Yard, Swiss National Police, and over 20 agencies in USA including the US Army.


This lecture is one of the most appreciated lectures of the "International Lecture Series". The session is delivered by John Patrick Moloney who has developed much convenient yet useful software for Fingerprint comparison. The reason why the present lecture is appreciated is the perfect demonstration of the software with the precise elucidation of its need, advantages, and the way each and every tool is explained in an easily understandable manner. Thus, the lecture is a must-watch session for all fingerprint learners and forensic enthusiasts.

The Forensic Comparison Software Company provides software for the latent fingerprint technicians for the enhancement, analysis, comparison, and charting. There is two software; provided by the company, one is Forensic Comparison Software – Standard Version 5.6 while another is Forensic Comparison Software – Version 5.6 + AFIS.

1. Forensic Comparison Software – Standard Version 5.6 provides all the tools required to conduct a fingerprint analysis, comparison, and enhancement using digital images.

2. Forensic Comparison Software – Version 5.6 + AFIS includes all the capabilities of the standard version along with the capacity to search fingerprint databases of various sizes. 


Fingerprint comparison:

What – Fingerprint comparison is side by side comparison of an unknown fingerprint impression to a known fingerprint impression. The session also included the procedure of Palm prints and Footprints comparison. 

Purpose – Fingerprint comparison is basically used for two purposes, the first one is known to everybody; i.e. Crime Solving while the other importance is Administration of Justice System and many people don’t know this side of fingerprint comparison.

The first thing the prosecutor has to put up is the identity of the accused and in many cases, the identity of the accused is established through fingerprints. 

The Era of Digital Fingerprinting Comparison:

From 1998 till 2004, the fingerprint comparison technicians faced various difficulties in fingerprint comparison due to the lack of facilities, there were no digital cameras, so they used their own developed 35mm films. The magnifying glasses were used in those times, which also caused various health issues, including eye strain, headache, neck and back pain. The examination was done on paper in those times as there were paper fingerprint forms and there were limited PC for work. 

In 2005, the Fingerprint Comparison software was introduced which gave a liability to Australian agencies as the fingerprint form could be downloaded in digital format for comparison. Those images could be looked at on the screen and instead of the magnifying glass. 

In 2006, there was an increase in facilities including flatbeds, dual monitors, upgraded PCs. Thus; there was a change in management also as digital fingerprint comparison workflows were followed. 

In 2007 – 2008, the team health improved, high definition image fingerprint comparison was done which also lead to improvement in efficiencies and training outcomes. There was also an improvement in the supervision of case files. 

In 2010, when the Forensic Comparison Software Company started, the government didn’t fund them; so they had to follow their own way to get the funding to process the software.

Fingerprint Comparison Software:

On opening the software, there are two screens, left screen is for the image of unknown prints while the right screen is for the image of known prints.  

Figure 1- Window of Fingerprint Comparison Software

The steps which are to be followed for the fingerprint comparison are as follows:

1. Upload image with drag and drop method as it is the quick and easiest method which can be used by everyone and it also removes the hectic task of fingerprint comparison with a magnifying glass.

2. There is an option to change the fingerprint image anytime by using the Next and Back buttons present on the upper stipe of the software window.

3. The image can be Zoom in and Zoom out at any point by using the scroll button of the mouse and also the image can be rotated at a 360-degree angle as per the need by using the left and right-click of the mouse on any location of the image.

Figure 2- 360 Degree Rotation of the Fingerprint Image

4. There is also the options available for image enhancement which means you can adjust the Brightness, Saturation, Contrast, and Sharpness of the image both in known and questioned sample for better comparison. 

Figure 3- Image Enhancement with Help of Software

5. Once you are done with all the image enhancement and other corrections in the Unknown print, then you have to go to the AFIS option where after tapping on the search option; the matching fingerprint will come up, and by double-clicking the image can be opened in the right screen for comparison. All the options of image enhancement and everything are also available for the right screen of the known samples.  

Figure 4- Search of Questioned Fingerprint Match in AFIS Data

6. Now, for matching the minutiae of both fingerprint impressions, the images are locked so that both the images can be zoom and rotated together.

7. By just marking the minutiae can be identified in both images. For marking; the steps which are to be followed are; firstly go to edit and then drawing and feature option. 

Figure 5- Marking in Fingerprint

8. After marking all the features, tap on the reporting option where you will find the auto chart, auto number, and auto letter option which will help you to create the labeled marking on the print

Figure 6- Labelling of Fingerprint Marking

9. Then the image can be saved by just copying it. Go to copy and then bring a word document and save it. The saved document can be printed out as per need. 

Palm print:

In a similar way, the palm print can be compared. For palm print, the orientation is not known; so the option of 360° comparison can be used as it searches all the way around. For 360° comparing, searching is a bit slow but it always comes up with a match. 

Figure 7- Plam Print Comparison


The footprint comparison is notoriously difficult because who knows what part of the footprint the image contains. Still searching can be done with the use of AFIS option and the matching print image come up.

Figure 8- Footprint Comparison

In such a way, the functionality of the software was explained.


The Forensic Comparison Software Company provides software for the Latent Fingerprint Technician for image enhancement, analysis, Comparison, and charting. It also provides an optional AFIS tool for searching small databases of fingerprints of up to 5000, 10,000, and 50,000 individuals and beyond. The Forensic comparison Software is, in effect, the multi-tool for the Latent Fingerprint Technician, the one-stop-shop for all of the digital image requirements of the Fingerprint caseworker.

The FCS software marks a profound shift in the way that fingerprint comparisons are conducted from the manual methods using a magnifying glass to a fully digital automated method that makes the best possible use of digital and personal computer technology. The latest Forensic Comparison Software Version 5 is the result of the close consultation between Forensic Examiners from various law enforcement agencies working with our in-house software programmer to achieve the best possible image management tool for day-to-day comparison activity.

The founding directors of the FCS Company are John Moloney and Matthew Moloney. John Moloney has an extensive background in Fingerprint Case Work, Crime Scene Examination, Fingerprint Comparison, Disaster Victim Identification, AFIS management, and Police and Immigration Fingerprint Management and Consultancy. Matthew Moloney is an experienced Programmer currently developing advanced software for Microsoft and with experience in software development at eBay.

This close collaboration between a Forensic Specialist Manager with a practical hands-on grasp of the Forensic Field and Laboratory work and a Computer programmer with the most up to date techniques available provides the environment where the best possible outcome for the Forensic Examiner is possible

Personal Note

Mr. John Patrick Moloney has started the session with a brief introduction about his achievement as a fingerprint expert in Northern Territory Police, The Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Immigration Department. Then he has discussed how the fingerprint comparison was done back in 1990 and what challenges were faced by the fingerprint experts at that time. After that, he told us about the Introduction of fingerprint comparison software, along with the challenges which he had faced during the launch and why he decided to incorporate the software with AIFS Database. Also, he has explained the working of the software really well and enlighten that on how this software has brought ease to the life of fingerprint examiners worldwide. This session was amazing and informative which is really of great importance for all the document examiners and the students who are willing to have their future in this field. For more details of this talk, you can visit the YouTube Channel forenisc365.

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