Weathering the storm in Puerto Rico: Gemalto Cogent AFIS bounces back after Hurricane Maria

Gemalto Cogent AFIS 

Sep. 19, 2017: Hurricane Maria near peak intensity, moving north towards Puerto Rico. Image source: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This is total devastation. Puerto Rico, in terms of infrastructure, will not be the same…this is something of historic proportions."

Carlos Mercader, spokesman for the governor of Puerto Rico to CNN on September 21, 2017.

A story of  resilience 

A Gemalto Cogent AFIS supplied to the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) clearly demonstrated its resilience in September 2017, when the Caribbean island was struck by Hurricane Maria.

With sustained winds of 155mph, this devastating Category 4 storm represented the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years.

There was widespread flooding, power was knocked out, and numerous homes destroyed.

However, within 24 hours of the hurricane​ subsiding, the AFIS was once again up and running via its Disaster Recovery system.

Inside a week, the physical system was fully repaired, thanks to the support of Gemalto Cogent's locally-based, on-site support personnel.

New AFIS system for Puerto Rico

Cogent (now part of Gemalto) was originally awarded the contract to supply a new AFIS to the Puerto Rico Police Department back in 2005.

With over 18,000 police officers, the PRPD serves a densely populated island that is home to nearly 3.8 million residents.

It faces law and order challenges common to virtually every major urban environment in the USA.

To assist this work, the organization was seeking to replace its increasingly obsolete AFIS with a modern, flexible, scalable solution, based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.

At-a-glance: the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)

  • 13 regions
  • 71 districts
  • 34 precincts
  • 3 highway patrol areas
  • 18,262 police officers

Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) Photo: courtesy of PDPR

A new Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) for the PRPD

A 180-day delivery schedule was required for the new Cogent AFIS. This included the electronic conversion of over 600,000 tenprint records stored in the previous AFIS vendor's proprietary format, 35,000 latent records and 50,000 mugshot records.

Key technical requirements

  • The ability to handle both 500ppi and 1,000ppi files in the same database
  • NIST-compliant image compression rate of 15:1 - instead of the previous 35:1 proprietary ratio
  • Compliance with ANSI/NIST and EFTS 7.0 standards, enabling data exchange with the PR CJIS (Puerto Rico Criminal Justice Information System) and the FBI .

The Cogent solution

  • CAFIS backend/server
  • 15 LiveScan booking stations
  • 11 AFIS workstations – two dedicated to latent operations
  • 19 Cogent Mugshot software licenses


The Puerto Rico Police Department's Cogent AFIS includes: fingerprint, palm print, finger latent and palm latent identification capabilities; an archive subsystem; an integrated mugshot system.

It processes criminal and applicant transactions with electronic submission to the FBI and supports customized workflows and multi-finger matching to maximize accuracy. The AFIS also searches latents against both flat and rolled fingerprint images.

Fingerprints at Puerto Rico Police Department

Key benefits of the Cogent AFIS

  • Improved interoperability between the PRPD and the PR CJIS
  • NIST compliance, allowing for exchange of data between agencies with dissimilar Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification Systems (APFIS), including the FBI
  • Ability to easily import latent images into the AFIS
  • Ability to submit transactions electronically to the FBI, rather than via hard cards. At the time, this reduced the FBI's rejection rate for PRPD submissions from 42% to 4%
  • Ability to support full paperless fingerprint record submission to the FBI (since 2007)
  • Addition of palm print matching, which was not available in the previous PRPD AFIS system
  • Ability to link a fingerprint card, palm print card and rap sheet under one identification number, enabling a more complete record of the person being fingerprinted

Supporting your law enforcement projects

To support law enforcement agencies in their deployment programs, Gemalto Cogent has developed a complete set of solutions.

As every customer's environment and needs are unique, our solutions come with end-to-end consulting and integration services to provide assistance at every stage of a new initiative.

Whatever the requirements, including nationwide deployment of stations and the creation of an AFIS/CABIS system and its back-up site (and a related disaster recovery plan - as was the case in Puerto Rico),

Gemalto Cogent will mobilize the right team and the right partners to support you throughout the project.

Reap the benefits of global best practices

Gemalto's know-how in providing end-to-end solutions and services has been proven in over 200 projects worldwide. Typically our customers have renewed their confidence in Gemalto's solutions and expertise by commissioning further projects.

With more than 25 years of experience in civil identity and law enforcement, Gemalto is always a reliable system integrator for your project.

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