From paper to digital: Modernising criminal records with biometrics
Seamless migration of paper records
One of the key requirements of the Guinean police was to migrate the existing paper-based criminal records into the new system in a way that would be consistent with the new entries created in ABIS. “To tackle this, we designed the digital records in ABIS to align with the existing paper-based records format. This made digitising easier and more user-friendly than getting used to new record cards.”
“ABIS makes police work extremely efficient. The accuracy of biometrics allows us to prevent judicial errors and will greatly help us in administering justice.”— Abdoul Malick Kone, General Director of the National Police in Guinea
This is how ABIS digitises the paper-based records: a paper record is scanned in order to obtain photos and fingerprints, the police officer enters the biographical data, and a new digital record is created. The whole process takes around 10 minutes per record.
Facts about Guinea
Based on reports by the Global Organized Crime Index, the biggest threats of the Guinean criminal market are human trafficking, arms trafficking, cocaine trade, non-renewable resources crimes and crimes concerning local fauna.
Guinea is sometimes known as Guinea-Conakry in order to distinguish it from other countries in West and Central Africa with the Guinea name, such as Equatorial Guinea or Guinea-Bissau.
The country is rich in minerals. An estimated quarter of the world’s bauxite can be found here, as well as iron ore, diamonds, gold and uranium.
Overcoming cultural challenges
“It is always great to be on-site when it comes to projects in emerging or developing countries. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand the conditions of work until we are here. For example, some of the things we tend to take for granted outside of Africa may be problematic to do here,” admits Juraj.
Guinea is among the countries with the lowest digital literacy in the world (in 121st place out of 134 countries on the list), so even working with computers could sometimes be a challenge.
“Some officers have never worked with computers or keyboards, so we had to teach them first. Luckily, we had a few quick learners who, within a week, were training their colleagues,” he adds.
Power outages were also usual, which made online training complicated. “Of course, we encountered some difficulties as well as cultural differences, but fortunately, most officers were eager to learn,” says Juraj.
After successfully implementing ABIS, the project continues to the next phase, which is the deployment of facial recognition software.
Connecting the biometric dots in Brazil: How an innovative algorithm for children’s fingerprints can potentially assist in solving child trafficking cases
In Brazil’s diverse landscape, each of its 26 states issues its own IDs and driver’s licenses. This results in a scenario where it is completely legal to have 26 different pieces of documentation. However, the states issue documents under different providers and their databases often fail to communicate with each other. Maranhão, a northeastern state with a population of 7 million people, was just one of the many states facing this challenge.
“Maranhão was the first Brazilian state we helped to synchronise databases and introduce new tools for both collecting and identifying biometric data such as fingerprints,” says Alejandro Aleman, Solution Manager in Innovatrics who worked on the project.
With their local partner Valid, Innovatrics discovered several issues: the biometrics the state already used were obsolete, fingerprint processing was inaccurate and slow, and duplicates in databases and children’s fingerprints were both causing false matches.
So how exactly did Innovatrics help? Let’s break it down step by step.
- Deploying ABIS for driver’s license issuance and criminal identificatio
In Maranhão, the police had limited criminal data because driver’s licenses and criminal records were stored separately. However, with the new ABIS system, both databases are now connected. Alejandro explains, “We transferred the legacy databases into the new system, which provided the police with valuable data but also brought new challenges to the project.”
- Managing duplicates
Combining the databases unveiled numerous duplicates, especially due to errors and obsolete tools. Duplicates in databases slow down police work because the system has to search through millions of entries to find a match during the identification process. Thanks to the automatic tool that detects and deletes duplicates, Alejandro and his team were able to reduce the number of entries from 5 million to 10,000.
- Creating categories for simpler identification
In order to simplify the search, new categories were created. Police are now able to label database entries under civil or criminal categories. A special category has also been created for children.
- Children’s fingerprints
Children’s fingerprints are a special category ABIS had to deal with: “They are small, so the papillary ridges are very close to each other and so are the minutiae points that are used to map out the fingerprint,” says Alejandro, “These points are so close to each other, that they confuse the system and match with almost any adult fingerprint.”
To overcome this, Innovatrics developed a special algorithm that automatically scales the fingerprint resolution based on the distance between papillary ridges. In the future, this innovative algorithm can potentially assist in solving child trafficking cases and help with victim identification.
- New option for uploading SMTs and videos
One of the upgrades that Innovatrics brought to the criminal ABIS for Maranhão was the ability to upload and search images of distinctive marks like scars, marks and tattoos (SMT), which can be a valuable part of the identification process. Another possible option was to upload videos onto criminal records to make the search for potential criminals easier.
The Maranhão project took 18 months to complete, and its success has inspired other Brazilian states like Espírito Santo and Rio Grande do Sul to also embrace ABIS technology from Innovatrics.
AUTHOR: Kristína Zrnčíková
ILLUSTRATIONS: Julia Latusek