Biometric Devices Help New Jersey County Track Delivery of Homeless Services


Russell Nichols
Government Technology
November 1, 2010

Bergen County, N.J., has dealt with one particular dilemma for years: The Department of Human Services (DHS) needs to estimate how many homeless individuals receive services, such as food, medicine and shelter. But many people served by the department don’t have accurate forms of identification, and without a precise tracking system, the DHS might have erroneously counted one person who visits the shelter 10 times, for example, as 10 different people visiting once.

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And when it comes time to properly fill out grant applications to receive funding support, accuracy counts for the DHS.

“It’s not like you can do a head count,” said Susan Nottingham, the department’s Homeless Management Information System administrator. “We could sit down and say, ‘Can we talk to you for 45 minutes?’ But we didn’t want them to turn around and say, ‘We’re not that hungry.’”

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Now with biometrics technology, Bergen County has implemented a solution that helps the DHS keep an accurate count of the homeless people who receive social services. In September, the DHS unveiled a fingerprint identification system developed by Fulcrum Biometrics, a San Antonio-based company.

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