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New Jersey to improve homeless services through fingerprint scanning

| April 25, 2013

New Jersey plans to use fingerprint scans to manage parts of its homeless program, based on the success of a similar program in Bergen County. The new biometrics data management system (BDMS) will make it easier to track the homeless and the benefits they receive. Fingerprint scanning could also save time and labor.

Government Technology reports, “Like many other states hit hard by the recession, New Jersey has seen its homeless population rise and the demand for services increase substantially. The state entered 79,604 people into the New Jersey Homeless Management Information System (NJHMIS) in 2012 — up from 61,167 in 2011 and 56,754 in 2010 (these figures exclude Bergen County), according to Abram Hilson, assistant director of NJHMIS.”

Five locations will serve as beta sites for an initial three months. If successful, New Jersey’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) would expand the program to approximately 224 county and nonprofit organizations providing state homeless services.

Bergen County, the flagship program, has been scanning the fingerprints of people coming into its food banks since 2010. This fingerprint scanning technology has improved both the accuracy of records and the speed in which people receive their food.” ThirdFactor reports: “The program registered participants upon their first visit to a shelter, and on subsequent visits, they were able to access services quickly through scanning their finger.”

Fingerprint scanners

Fingerprint scanners are used by police too. (Image via West Midlands Police)

In New Jersey’s BDMS, when a homeless person comes in and gets a fingerprint scan, state officials can see at once the services the person has received. After they record the additional services the individual requires, a Web service automatically updates the NJHMIS.

Ultimately, better tracking of the food, shelter, clothing, and other resources for the homeless will determine the funding HMFA receives from the federal government. Additionally, a collaborative of county offices and nonprofits pay participation fees that will help fund the project. “We are really hoping this technology will help agencies that usually experience a large volume of repeat clients,” said Erin Lue-Hing, NJHMIS data quality analyst.

Category: News, Trespassing

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