Magazine article Information Management

Information Databases Aid Investigators

Magazine article Information Management

Information Databases Aid Investigators

Article excerpt

The state of Florida is developing a database--the Multi-state AntiTerrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX)--that may prove to be a criminal's worst enemy. The database is designed to give U.S. law enforcement agencies a powerful tool to analyze billions of records about both criminals and ordinary Americans.

MATRIX will enable investigators to find patterns and links among people and events faster than ever before, combining police records with commercially available collections of personal information about most American adults. For example, it would enable authorities to instantly find the name and address of every blonde owner of a blue Chevy pickup truck within a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event.

Seisint Inc., a Boca Raton, Florida, company, developed the program after the 2001 terrorist attacks and has donated the system to the state. The system is aided by federal funding--$4 million from the U.S. Justice Department and a pledge of $8 million from the Department of Homeland Security--and is poised to expand nationwide because other systems do not allow searches of criminal and commercial records with such ease and speed. In addition to the more than 135 Florida police agencies that have signed up for the service, at least a dozen states--including Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania--have said they want to add their records.

The Justice Department will provide the computer network for information sharing among the states, according to officials. Technical challenges include ensuring that data is accurate and that the system is updated frequently. …

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