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Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (the Iafis)

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The IAFIS stands for Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system. It is managed by the FBI, and is used as a national automated fingerprint identification system. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system has automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent searching capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses. By submitting fingerprints electronically, agencies receive electronic responses to criminal fingerprint submissions within two hours and within 24 hours for civil fingerprint submissions. IAFIS is also the largest database in the world containing criminal history for over 55 million people.

Since 1924, the FBI has been the country’s main head quarter for fingerprints, receiving thousands each day. Although many problems of scanning/feature extraction and of matching began to occur. The first AFIS required a whole room and was very costly but in only its first year of operations converted more than 14 million fingerprints to digital format. In 1974 the FBI began to make improvements on the system but went back to using the manual process that would take them 30 to 45 days to process just one fingerprint request. A new process came about that sped the print identification greatly. Where the old process would take multiple days to process the new system could run through thousands of sets in 30 minutes. After the success of AFIS began to spread many other companies began to attempt to mimic the system. In July of 1999 the system was completed to its best form (best updates it has received to this day) and is considered to be officially created then.

The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system has services that include ten-print based fingerprint identification, fingerprint services, subject search and criminal history services, document and imaging, and remote ten-print and latent fingerprint search services. A fingerprint identification service is a ten-print fingerprint submission that has ten rolled impressions and ten flat fingerprint impressions. Fingerprints are obtained when an arrest is done in a city, county, state or federal booking area. They are then processed locally and then electronically sent to a state agency system for processing. IAFIS accepts electronic and hard copy submissions of latent fingerprints. Each record is created through the submission of fingerprint images to IAFIS.

Participating states establish and update records through the submission of first and subsequent fingerprint images of arrested subjects. Once these records are established, states provide requested criminal history records for state-maintained records. States involved with the National Fingerprint File, submit only the first arrest fingerprint images on a subject to establish a clearer record within the system. Any subsequent activity related to this NFF record will be the sole responsibility of the NFF states. If a IAFIS fingerprint inquiry identifies a person with a criminal history in one or more NFF participating states, a Criminal History Request is forwarded to the participating NFF state’s criminal history system for the appropriate response. The IAFIS also has remote print and latent fingerprint searches.

The results of remote searches are returned electronically and include a list of potential matches and their corresponding fingerprints for comparison and identification. The IAFIS has even gone to solve cases from years ago. On October 17, 1978 Omaha Nebraska, Police Department responded to a crime scene where a man had been stabbed to death. Law enforcement officers collected evidence, that included latent and palm prints. But the case had gone unsolved. In December of 2008 the Police Department’s Cold Case Unit was asked by Criminal Laboratory Services Section of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement whether the evidence had searched and linked to a suspect. The Police Crime Laboratory searched the latent prints in IAFIS. Soon after the IAFIS responded with a list of candidates, then several days later the IAFIS results had came in which led to the positive identification of the first suspect.

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Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (The IAFIS). (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from
“Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (The IAFIS).” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019,
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (The IAFIS). [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Jan. 2022].
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