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Collaboration

Ready to collaborate?

Collaboration is at the core of CSAFE’s work.

CSAFE researchers are inviting statisticians, scientists, and forensic practitioners to be part of our ongoing research opportunities within the disciplines of digital evidence, latent print analysis, firearms and toolmarks, and more.

Immediate collaboration opportunities are available for those who want to explore probability and statistics within forensic analysis. Each project listed below includes a summary, the support requested from participants, estimated time involved, and deliverables. To get involved, please use the links below to contact the principal investigators.

To learn more about how we are advancing forensic science together, please visit our research areas page.

 

Ongoing and Upcoming Research Opportunities

Handwriting Evaluation

There are cases in which legal professionals can compare a questioned document to samples from a set of writers — for example, a bomb threat note found in a school that must have been written by a current student. CSAFE handwriting research aims to develop assessment methods that analyze the quality of handwriting images for use in automated comparison systems. Several automated systems are available, however, they are expensive and their algorithms are proprietary. So CSAFE developed an open-source program called handwriter that is available to the public and supports advancements in CSAFE handwriting analysis research. Learn more about CSAFE’s handwriting analysis research here.

Study Dates

April 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023

Support Requested

Participants will be asked to provide handwriting samples at three data collection sessions, each at least three weeks apart. At each session, participants complete a short survey and transcribe the contents of three prompts, each three times. In an upcoming project phase, we will ask participants to test the handwriter package on their own samples and provide feedback on the user interface, capabilities, limitations, usefulness, and other usability features.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

3-4 hours total over a period of 2-3 months

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article, Database of handwriting samples, algorithms

Characterization of Footwear in Local Populations

Developing new methods for assessing the strength of association between a crime scene print and a suspect’s shoe remains a priority for CSAFE researchers. This project focuses on gathering and analyzing information to create a score-based likelihood ratio framework for footwear examination. Learn more about CSAFE’s footwear impression analysis research here.

Study Dates

June 1, 2022 – May 31, 2024

Support Requested

We are looking for practitioners and law enforcement partners to collect data from local populations.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

Ongoing and dependent on agency

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article

StegoAppDB

This reference database compiles variational sources for mobile steganography image forensics, with more than 960,000 instances of highly-provenanced image data. The data is used to develop and test algorithms and create new models of the camera pipeline. The next generation of algorithms for detecting hidden images will rely on deep learning algorithms with millions of free parameters (see, e.g., Boroumand et al., 2019). We are growing the database substantially through automation of the image data collection and stego creation process — such as using a drone to collect image data — in order to allow investigators to work with deep learning methods. Learn more about CSAFE’s digital evidence research here.

Study Dates

March 1, 2022 – May 31, 2024

Support Requested

Availability to discuss the issues with steganography/digital image forensics the crime lab currently has or is looking to address in the future; if a topic of mutual interest is identified, then some sample of data plus a description of the issues encountered.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

The time is TBD. We would work with the lab to identify some aspect of the issue that could be studied based on the availability of the lab personnel.

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article, Database of stego images and analysis tools

Forensic Processing at Crime Labs

A primary goal of this project is to provide field data regarding the practice of latent print comparison in crime laboratories. We intend to collaborate with laboratory personnel to examine case management procedures and related data in multiple laboratories. This will expand the limited research of real-world outcomes and allow for inter-laboratory comparison. We will study actual casework and laboratory procedures with the goal of offering recommendations for practices that promote increased accuracy, reliability, and/or efficiency.

Study Dates

April 1, 2022 – May 31, 2024

Support Requested

Researchers are seeking to collaborate with laboratory personnel to generate and answer questions about each laboratory’s case processing and workflow. Collaboration will aim to answer the laboratories’ specific questions and inform the larger field of case processing within latent print units.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

Time for the collaboration can vary according to a lab’s specific aims. For laboratories with available case processing data, a roughly one-hour consultation with researchers to develop/finalize research questions and explain existing datasets might be all that’s needed at the outset. Laboratories with the desire to begin collecting case processing data can collaborate with researchers as needed to facilitate the development of research questions, data collection, analysis, and interpretation of results.

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article

Blind Proficiency Testing

CSAFE is working with laboratories to implement or increase the use of blind proficiency testing while documenting the experiences, lessons learned, and best practices for laboratories in white papers. We will evaluate the results of these programs to provide data of use to the laboratories themselves and to better assess LPA as performed in practice. We will also work with laboratories to develop a collaborative infrastructure to support the implementation of blinding in mid-sized and possibly smaller laboratories that do not have the infrastructure of larger laboratories. Our overarching goal is to work with labs to develop and implement their own internal processes for blind proficiency testing. Learn more about CSAFE’s latent print analysis research here.

Study Dates

March 1, 2022 – May 31, 2024

Support Requested

We will work with the crime lab practitioners to get a better understanding on the frequently-used digital evidence types in caseworks, confusions and potential errors in communicating and analyzing these evidence types, and get insights on what factors limit the practitioners’ efficacy and efficiency in their daily caseworks.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

Varied, depending on actual work and the need for further clarifications. Usually, one or two hours every two months. We plan to visit the crime labs for in-person and/or virtual Zoom meetings, based on the needs and mutual interest/availability.

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article, SOPs for blind proficiency testing

Mobile App Evidence Analysis

Researchers are designing and prototyping EviHunter, a suite of tools to analyze and discover Android-app-generated evidential data. Researchers are also working with NIST to build a catalog-like database to host the forensic evidential artifacts (e.g., type, location, and data format) that mobile apps generate and store on the mobile devices or remote servers. With the support of EviHunter team, practitioners can utilize their own computers or third-party cloud services to run the programs and analyze apps in their casework. A large-scale evaluation using real-world Android apps and the development of Android app forensic artifacts database are on-going. Learn more about CSAFE’s digital evidence research here.

Study Dates

March 1, 2022 – May 31, 2024

Support Requested

We will work with the crime lab practitioners to get a better understanding on the frequently-used digital evidence types in casework, areas of confusion and potential errors in communicating and analyzing these evidence types. We hope to gain insights on what factors limit the practitioners’ efficacy and efficiency in their daily casework.

Estimated Participant Time Involved:

Varied, depending on actual work and the need for further clarifications. Usually, one or two hours every two months. We plan to visit the crime labs for in-person and/or virtual Zoom meetings, based on the needs and mutual interest/availability.

Deliverable Anticipated:

Peer-reviewed article, EviHunter app

Additional Collaboration Opportunities

Additional collaboration opportunities are also available. Please visit the Researcher / Practitioner Collaboration Directory to browse all current projects.