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Technion researchers have developed a method for the rapid processing of biometric data

The Israel Police is showing interest in the new method that will speed up the identification of a person's biometric signatures, such as DNA or a fingerprint, by tens of percent

Technion researchers have succeeded in developing a new method for the rapid processing of biometric data, which will speed up the identification of a person's biometric signatures, such as DNA or a fingerprint, by tens of percent. The researchers developed the method thanks to cooperation with the forensics department of the Israel Police, which shows great interest in it. The issue of establishing a DNA database of criminals is currently in the process of legislation in the Knesset. With the completion of the legislation and the activation of the database, the police will be required to deal with handling a growing database.

The method was developed by Master's student Solomon Kunin, under the guidance of Professor Yitzhak Gat, from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. "It is a database plus a search algorithm, with an application for DNA," the researchers explain. "Police around the world face a similar problem: given a DNA sample, they need to identify who it belongs to. In the future we will reach a situation where all developed countries will have biometric information of their entire population. It is important for the police that the answers to the tests arrive as quickly as possible. Today they operate with a simple method of comparing data one to one, which takes a lot of time. The solution we found - building a smart database. We use a multidimensional tree, where all the people are at the root, and from which there are branches. In fact, we organized the data as a smart tree, then adapted a search algorithm that uses these splits to reduce the search area. If he did not find the answer in a certain area, he immediately moves to another area, thus reducing the number of comparisons and greatly speeding up (up to 100 times) the search time. It also enables quick identification based on a partial profile."

The researchers also used parallel processing, to further speed up the process. That is, more than one computer will be able to perform the search at the same time.

The innovative method can also have uses in the field of identification by sound or image, in quality control in industry through imaging, and even in palm identification at airports.

A new police microscope greatly improves the ability to locate gunshot residue

Jonathan Lis, Haaretz

Astronaut Ramon's diary is deciphered in the photo lab

Two new laboratories of the police forensics department were inaugurated yesterday in Jerusalem with an investment of millions of shekels. At the same time, a sophisticated electron microscope that the police recently purchased for over NIS 1.5 million was presented. The new microscope improves by dozens of percent the ability of the police to locate traces of explosives on clothing involved in shooting incidents. Tanz Ezi Zadok, head of the MZP, said: "The equipment that existed until today did not allow us to examine the particles with the same level of sensitivity and quality."

With the initiation of the photo lab at the MZP, the police announced a transition to digital photography and interpretation only. The head of the Investigations and Intelligence Division, Superintendent Dodi Cohen, defined the new laboratory as a "technological leap forward", which will provide the police with work tools that will be up to date, according to the forecast, until 2010.

Among other things, the laboratory staff managed to decipher excerpts from the diary of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, which were located among the debris of the shuttle. The ink used by Ramon to write the diary faded completely in the crash and the researchers were able to recover the writing. Uri Ya'alon, who heads the laboratory, said yesterday that now police officers in Eilat can take a partial fingerprint at the scene of an incident, send it by e-mail to the laboratory in Jerusalem, where it will be processed and identified in a short time.

One of the technologies presented yesterday will allow the MZP researchers to identify and renew a manuscript that was deleted from an official document and other information was written on it. Another measure will make it possible to produce portraits of wanted criminals whose photographs are in the police's possession, to examine how they would look if they dyed their hair or grew a moustache, for example.

In the last year, a unique technique was developed in the laboratory that allows the computerized erasure of stamps stamped on documents. Thus, for example, the researchers were able to reveal the expiration date of a car license that was hidden by an official stamp. Another technique allowed the researchers to isolate in photos shoe prints at the scene of an incident, which could not be identified due to the confusing pattern on the pavements.

The DNA laboratory that was inaugurated yesterday is a first step towards the establishment of a DNA database in the police. When the database is established, it will contain the DNA data of the criminals in Israel and allow in a short time to locate activity patterns of serial rapists and murderers using the DNA extracted from the scenes where they operated.

The biometrics expert

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