Working day and night, FBI finishes IAFIS code
- By Florence Olsen
- May 10, 1999
Thats when they will start processing digital fingerprints, using more than four
dozen Hewlett-Packard Convex Scalable Parallel Processor 2000 and HP 9000 K-Class servers
in a secure computer room the size of two football fields.
In the final building phase, the $640 million Integrated Automated Fingerprint
Identification System is scheduled to come online this summer at 90 percent of its final
Even at 90 percent completion, IAFIS will provide way more than we have with
IDAS, the current Identification Automated System, project manager James Jasinski
The other 10 percent of the capabilities are, so far, not usable by many states
law enforcement agencies, he said. The final 10 percent also includes new IDAS functions
not programmed into IAFIS because the FBI Advisory Policy Board agreed last August to
freeze major changes to the final build.
Four months later, the board decided to freeze even minor table changes until after
IAFIS comes online.
Before the freeze, each time someone added a new function to IDAS, the IAFIS developers
tried to match the new function.
We were making 400 IDAS changes per quarter, Jasinski said. What we
had was a parallelogram in search of a rectangle, and you really cannot do development
that way. You dont have a firm target.
In early 1996, FBI managers reorganized IAFIS development into six separate builds
after realizing they likely could never integrate the three separate contractor-supplied
components of the system in the time called for by the project schedule.
Litton PRC had won the contract to build the Identification Tasking and Networking
(ITN) component of IAFIS. Lockheed Martin Corp. was to build the Automated Fingerprint
Identification System (AFIS) component, and Science Applications International Corp. of
San Diego would supply the Interstate Identification Index (III).
We realized it was unrealistic to say were going to have three separate
major systems coming in, and were going to glue them together in four months,
The build approach, which proved highly effective, was not easy to execute. Tensions
often ran high between the development team, which worked days, and the testing team,
which worked nights.
It was a very miserable process, to be honest, Jasinski said. But the
nightly round of tests and subsequent fixes was necessary to iron out messy protocol and
The night team tested each successive AFIS build to see whether messages moved
correctly through the major system components to complete a transaction.
The best way to find out where there are disconnects is to send a message back
and forth, Jasinski said.
A process that began with informal reports changed to formal reports and finally to
daily meetings to review problems. Carlo Lucchesi, the IAFIS program chief of staff,
compared it to a military watch structure, almost.
The successive testing paid off, Lucchesi said. Using an early build of IAFIS to
identify so-called latent or incomplete prints gathered from crime scenes, the FBI made 71
hits and may have opened cases that had been cold or closed in the field, he
Were quite excited about the prospects when we go operational, based on
this preliminary run, Lucchesi said.
When IAFIS goes online, latent-fingerprint specialists in the FBI headquarters
laboratory will get new Hewlett-Packard B-Class Model B160L Visualize workstations. IAFIS
initially will have up to five clusters of up to 22 HP workstations attached to a pair of
HP 9000 K-Class Model K460 servers through 24-port Cisco Catalyst 5000 asynchronous
transfer mode Ethernet switches from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.
IAFIS will involve 300 to 1,000 HP B160 workstations in clusters of up to 42 as needed
for 10-print fingerprint matching at the FBIs Clarksburg, W. Va., facility. The
workstation clusters will link to five HP 9000 K460 workgroup servers and other backbone
servers through a series of redundant Cisco LightStream 1010 eight-port ATM switches.
The ITN component alone will have 19 HP D-Class Model 210 optical jukebox servers and
as many as 23 HP 9000 K460 servers. They will manage the image index and workflow
databases, segment interfaces and front-end communications to the FBIs National
Crime Information Center 2000 and the states National Law Enforcement Transmission
The III component adds 24 SGI Indy R5000 workstations and three SGI Challenge XL
servers to the IAFIS Fiber Distributed Data Interface backbone. IIIs centerpiece is
an automated mail-handling system.
The most processor-intensive component of all is AFIS, driven by 29 HP Convex SPP2000
servers attached to 50 Symbios 3000 RAID storage arrays from Symbios LSI Logic Corp. of
The initial IAFIS configuration will have up to 57 HP SureStore 600fx magneto-optical
jukeboxes and 42 QMS 2060 printers from QMS Inc. of Mobile, Ala. Its designed
to be expandable, Jasinski said.