February 29, 2024

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Adoption of Forensic Algorithms in Criminal Investigations

While forensic algorithms are tools used by law enforcement agencies to help determine whether an evidentiary sample, collected from a crime scene, is or is not associated with a potential source sample, collected directly from a person of interest, based on the presence of similar patterns, impressions, or other features in the sample and the source. Hence, forensic algorithms play a crucial role in modern criminal investigations, helping law enforcement determine whether an evidentiary sample can be matched to a specific person.

While technology can curtail subjective decisions and reduce the time it takes analysts to reach conclusions, it comes with its own set of challenges. According to a report on how forensic algorithms work, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlined the key challenges affecting the use of these algorithms and the associated social and ethical implications.

Federal law enforcement agencies primarily use three types of forensic algorithms to help determine whether an evidentiary sample is or is not associated with a potential source sample which includes latent prints, facial recognition and probabilistic genotyping.

All three compare evidence from crime scenes to an online database. However, several factors ranging from the quality of the evidence, the size of the respective database and age, sex and racial demographics have the potential to reduce the accuracy of these findings. Analysts themselves are subject to human error, and biases differ from person to person.

The accuracy of latent prints frequently relies on the percentage of the fingerprint covered in the sample and whether it is smeared or distorted, making it difficult to draw precise inferences when the quality of the evidence is compromised. Similarly, the accuracy of facial recognition algorithms can vary when individuals wear glasses or makeup or if the image was taken from an extreme angle.

Law enforcement also runs into problems assessing the validity of probabilistic genotyping, or the technology used in DNA profiling. Most studies evaluating probabilistic genotyping software have been conducted by law enforcement or software developers themselves. A report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology noted that independent evaluation is often required to establish scientific validity, but there have been few such studies.

GAO offers policymakers three solutions to improve the reliability of forensic algorithms. The first involves increased training for law enforcement analysts and investigators to boost their understanding of the algorithms and the subsequent results. To reduce the risk of misuse and improve consistency, GAO says policymakers could also support the development and implementation of standards and policies related to law enforcement’s testing, procurement and use of such algorithms.

GAO also suggests that increased transparency related to testing and performance could improve the public’s knowledge of the technologies and help address corresponding challenges. By automating the assessment of evidence collected in criminal investigations, forensic algorithms can expand the capabilities of law enforcement and improve objectivity in investigations. However, use of these algorithms also poses challenges if the status quo continues.

U.S. researchers have been utilising an algorithm to solve many problems in different fields, including face recognition algorithms for flight boarding. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The most accurate face recognition algorithms have demonstrated the capability to confirm airline passenger identities while making very few errors, according to recent tests of the software conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The findings focus on face recognition (FR) algorithms’ performance under a particular set of simulated circumstances: matching images of travellers to previously obtained photos of those travellers stored in a database.

This use of FR is currently part of the onboarding process for international flights, both to confirm a passenger’s identity for the airline’s flight roster and also to record the passenger’s official immigration exit from the United States. The results indicate that several of the FR algorithms NIST tested could perform the task using a single scan of a passenger’s face with 99.5% accuracy or better — especially if the database contains several images of the passenger.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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