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Firearm Forensics Black-Box Studies for Examiners and Algorithms using Measured 3D Surface Topographies

Award Information

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Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $196,415)

As submitted by the proposer: Advances in 3D surface metrology have made their way into the field of firearm and toolmark analysis. Accurate surface imaging, coupled with high-resolution visualization tools and advanced algorithms are beginning to allow examiners to view, annotate, and share data between labs, to conduct blind verification, and to form a statistical basis for identification. This proposal aims to advance the field of 3D scanning and analysis for firearm forensics. First, the researchers will improve their Virtual Microscopy Viewer software to better facilitate its use in black-box studies. Second, the researchers will select and scan a large set of cartridge casings. Finally, the researchers will conduct a large black-box virtual microscopy study. Topographic data acquired from 3D scanners can be used in the emerging application of Virtual Microscopy (VM). VM describes the visual examination of a 3D microscopic representation of an object. In VM, the examiner views and manipulates the object's measured 3D representation using a computer without physical access to the specimen. The establishment of Virtual Microscopy tools (Aim 1) will facilitate evidence access, enhance examiner training, improve proficiency and error-rate studies, and simplify blind verification. The collection of data and completion of black-box studies (Aims 2, 3) directly addresses concerns raised by recent published reports and allows the computation of examiner error-rates. The proposed work includes critical steps towards further validating the field of toolmark examination and the use of 3D scanning technology in the forensic lab. This information gained from completion of the proposed work will benefit law enforcement and their ability to present forensic evidence in the courtroom. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. - See 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). ca/ncf
Date Created: September 30, 2017