Monday, October 27, 2014

Strengthening Forensic Science in the US

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) began sending out letters to subject matter experts a few weeks ago. OSAC is part of an initiative by NIST and the Department of Justice to strengthen forensic science in the United States.

Of particular interest to the readers of this blog, the IT/Multimedia Scientific Area Committee (SAC) has named and published its committee Chairs. The IT/Multimedia SAC consists of the Speaker Recognition, Imaging Technologies, Digital Evidence, and Facial Identification subcommittees.

I've been telling you that this is coming since the NAS report was published a few years ago. Well. Here it is.

The next press release from the OSAC should contain the names of the subcommittee members as well as the dates/locations for the first SAC meetings.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Amped FIVE Update: new tutorials, DVR formats, and more

Amped Software announced another update today. "First of all the IFrame seek added in the previous version has been improved to work on all filters (with the exception of Frame Selectors).

As usual, we had a lot of our users requesting the conversion of specific DVR formats. In this update we added 3 new DVR formats (PAR, MGV, DRV). PAR and DRV, were already supported but we added a new sub-type as many times files with the same extension actually come in many different flavors. Thanks a lot to everybody who is contributing to the development with requests!

We’ve also included the DVR Screen Capture tool to make it easier to grab the selection of the area.

A lot of our users don’t do actual casework on workstations connected to the Internet. For this reason we just added a message in the menu item Help > Check for Updates On Line which will give you the link where to check if your version is up to date from the browser on another PC.

Finally, we’ve added and updated tutorials to include screenshots from the latest version. Amped FIVE has come a long way since they were written!"


Thursday, October 23, 2014

LEEDIR in use in Pumpkin Riot Probe

This just in from the AP: "Police in New Hampshire are using a relatively new application to collect photos and videos they hope will lead to arrests following weekend chaos at a pumpkin festival.

More than 80 people were arrested after parties got out of hand Saturday in Keene, leading to property destruction and injuries. Police in riot gear used tear gas and pepper balls to control crowds as large as 2,000 people.

Keene police have created a LEEDIR account, or Large Emergency Event Digital Information Repository, where people can send images and videos directly from their smartphones to police.

More than 100 people have already sent files as the investigation by several police agencies continues.

LEEDIR is an online and mobile app that can be activated after a major emergency."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FIVE updated

The recent update to Amped Software's FIVE brings a welcome refresh of the Filters panel.

As you scroll down the filter group (left side), the individual filters move along with you - justified to assure that they're in view when you highlight a specific group.

I know, it's a little thing. But it's the little things that make life worth while.

Use the Check for Updates feature to make sure that you have the latest version. There's usually the inclusion of new file format support as a wee bonus.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Codes of Ethics

Given Sunday's post about the many people out there claiming to be experts in Forensic Video Analysis, I began wondering if the courts could/should enforce a Code of Ethics.

I think many of the organizations out there for people that do what we do have some sort of statement about ethics or an actual Code of Ethics. The IACIS, for example, has theirs on their membership page.

IACIS Code of Ethics
IACIS members must demonstrate and maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

IACIS members must:

  • Maintain the highest level of objectivity in all forensic examinations and accurately present the facts involved.
  • Thoroughly examine and analyze the evidence in a case.
  • Conduct examinations based upon established, validated principles.
  • Render opinions having a basis that is demonstratively reasonable.
  • Not withhold any findings, whether inculpatory or exculpatory, that would cause the facts of a case to be misrepresented or distorted.
  • Never misrepresent credentials, education, training, and experience or membership status.
How incredibly refreshing.

But, can an examiner accurately present the facts involved if they don't understand the science behind the tools and techniques that they employ? Can an examiner thoroughly examine and analyze the evidence if they don't have the appropriate tools - or those tools are out of date? Can "it just doesn't look right to me" be an established and valid principle? Is demonstratively reasonable too much to ask? Does your inclusion on the Superior Court's list of experts sufficient proof of your training, experience, and education?

To pull something like this off at the Superior Court level, it would take a court panel and judge that invests a bit of time to see what's out there in terms of gear, what the science says, who's doing what, and etc. 

I understand that the Courts are massively overworked. But, if you put a list out there, it should mean something. Sadly, the video/image section of LA County's list needs a bit of trimming.