Friday, April 6, 2012

Something to think about

Earlier this week, I was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Nebraska chapter of the International Association for Identification.  The IAI is a professional association of people involved in forensic science and criminal identification.  Think of them as the CSI association.

The conference was at the beautiful Peter Kiewit lodge at Mahoney State Park, midway between Lincoln and Omaha.  About 100 people were in attendance, including many investigators from Nebraska law enforcement agencies.  There were several vendors displaying their wares.  I'm always pretty interested in any kind of gizmo that comes packed in a Pelican case, so I enjoyed my coffee while perusing crime scene gear before the conference kick-off.

The participants are all involved in forensic investigations: fingerprints, DNA, trace evidence, and so forth. But I talked about another aspect of criminal identification: the collection and analysis of data, specifically, the trail of electrons people leave behind as they go about their lives.  Once again, I used myself as an example, walking the audience through the places I had been and things that I had done already that morning, where I had left my own electronic breadcrumps.

I hope I gave the conference participants something to think about.  It's a topic I have blogged about on prior occasions.  I think we are still just scratching the surface, however, and that the collision between the technology of mining electronic evidence and concerns about personal privacy looms as an issue that will create some significant public discussion in coming years.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like it would have been a fascinating event to attend and learn from. Thanks for sharing, Tom.

Anonymous said...

I watch a few of the Forensic themed shows. I don't watch them for their plots or story lines but to get a glimpse at high end technologies. Some of their equipment really seems futuristic, i.e. a recent episode had a character taking a picture of a fingerprint with his cell phone and sending it off for identification. In about ten seconds they had a hit. How close is that to reality?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Pings from cell towers to prove phone locations and text messages from the suspect to the victim are playing a prominent role in a murder trial going on here right now. Love all the technology that is currently available, but what we have now pales in comparison to what lies ahead.


Anonymous said...

Would be nice if 5.0 radio would come back up on the airways, LPD has been off air for about a month, but LFR & LCSO are still on the airways.