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Information databases aid investigators.

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.

Privacy advocates say they are concerned that the system offsets the balance between national security and individual privacy, but MATRIX developers say it relies on the same records that law enforcement agencies have always had access to, only it pulls all the data together faster and more efficiently.

Similarly, University of Alabama scientists have created an Internet database that offers quick information when police have no photo or other background on the suspect they are trying to find. The Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) has assisted more than 400 law enforcement agencies in Alabama since its January 2003 launch. Agencies that sign up can simultaneously access the system's numerous information databases. The search engine offers police data ranging from driver's license photos to traffic ticket records, outstanding warrants to protection orders, and state prison logs. Agencies can even search using limited information, such as partial license plate numbers or physical traits. Police can enter a suspect's approximate weight, age within 10 years, county, and any other details, such as the fact that the last name of a suspect begins with the letter "T." Then the system finds names that match the criteria. Previous record systems would have required hours, if not days, to find the same information. Police can access LETS through any computer with an Internet connection, including those inside patrol cars.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
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Title Annotation:Up front: news, trends & analysis; Multi-state AntiTerrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX), developed by Seisint Inc.; Multi-state AntiTerrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX), developed by Seisint Inc.
Publication:Information Management Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:470
Previous Article:Einstein online.
Next Article:India to adopt data privacy rules.
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