High-Priority Technology Needs: Confirming the Guilty and Protecting the Innocent

Through collaboration and consultation with practitioners, NIJ has identified high-priority technology needs for the criminal justice field, including the following aimed at confirming the guilty and protecting the innocent:

  • Improved capability to expand the information that can be extracted from traditional types of forensic evidence and to quantify its evidentiary value, including: 
    • Identification or characterization of:
      • Biological markers that may reveal more information about the source of biological evidence.
      • New substances or chemical constituents of forensic importance.
    • Improved tools for examining aged, degraded, limited, damaged, inhibited or otherwise compromised DNA evidence.
    • Tools to expand the utility of Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA.
    • Tools that provide a quantitative measure/statistical evaluation of forensic comparisons, including:
      • Impression evidence, such as friction ridge analysis, questioned document examination, firearms and toolmarks examination, and shoeprint/tire tread examination.
    • Physical separation of cells or components in mixtures from two or more individuals
      or sources, including:
      • Sperm.
  • Improved capability to use and process digital evidence, including:
    • Tools to investigate the use of peer-to-peer technologies used to facilitate criminal activity, such as distribution of contraband, that address decentralized and unstructured peer-to-peer network protocols.
    • Tools that can recover system files, operating system information, applications, deleted files and unallocated space from small-scale mobile devices, such as cell phones and personal digital assistants.
    • Full data imaging solutions for networks and network-attached devices addressing:
      • Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID).
      • Wireless network devices, including routers, gateways, network interface cards, repeaters, switches, hubs and wirelessly connected external digital media.
      • Network data storage devices that are either directly connected or connected by a computer to the network.
  • Improved means to verify the veracity of interviews.
  • Improved ability to effectively perform real-time, accurate identity checks across multiple jurisdictions and data systems, including:
    • Improved solutions to automatically determine that related entries in multiple databases that contain varying or inexact details are attributable to the same person.
    • Improved, more accurate information extraction from biometric data.
  • Fundamental research to improve understanding of the accuracy, reliability and measurement validity of the forensic science disciplines, including:
    • Studies that examine the degree of accuracy and reliability of methods used by forensic scientists.
    • Research to further a full understanding of quantifiable measures of uncertainty in the conclusions of forensic analyses, regardless of the sources of uncertainty.
    • Research to develop new approaches to forensic analysis, including quantitation of analyses that are currently qualitative in nature.
    • Research to examine human factors affecting forensic practice, including potential systemic errors.

Next section: Improving the Efficiency of Justice.

Date Modified: August 31, 2010