Since this Wednesday Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF) will incorporate across all its divisions a new digital data information management platform, called ““Beast”technology that will help facilitate the recording of evidence received by the agency and expedite reports of cause and manner of death.
The new laboratory system will also help reduce the time experts spend on administrative tasks. “Before, to get a case I had to look at three or four databases…in addition to the information written in the file,” said the director of the ICF, the pathologist. Maria Conte Miller.
“In a case that is not very complex, it reduces the time to correct the report and establish the cause and manner of death from an hour, an hour and a half to 15 minutes.”he assured.
The platform collects data, such as information about the deceased, the pieces of evidence presented and who is the custodian of that material, what scientific analyzes have been requested to complete the analysis, information about the interviewee, manner and cause of death, consultations requested from external professionals and what type of autopsy was performed on the body, among other information.
“This tool has been shown to help reduce the backlog (the accumulation) of cases because it is a more efficient way of managing informationthe result of the analysis reaches the concerned agency faster and allows the expert to dedicate himself to carrying out the analysis and not invest additional time recording findings manually,” he indicated.
Currently, the agency collected this data in writing and it was stored on various digital platforms. This fragmentation of the data, however, delayed and made the work of the experts difficult. “This drastically changes that reality and all data will be generated electronically,” he stated.
Conte explained that the platform integrates the database of the Puerto Rico DNA Bank and syncs with the app ““Crime Pad”, used by forensic investigators to document crime scenes. ““It offers visibility and transparency in all processes, making updated information on cases under investigation accessible to the prosecutor’s office,” he added.
“Beast” began to be used partially – in mid-2022 – in the Pathology Division. But, as of this Wednesday, the Toxicology Laboratory, Digital Evidence, Questionable Documents, and the Firearms and Controlled Substances Laboratory are integrated into the use of the platform. “There are already thousands of autopsies registered in the database and it already allows a prosecutor to see those reports,” Conte said.
The pathologist also highlighted that the platform helps the proper management of the resources that the ICF has, as it contains a session, Laboratory Asset Managementwhich allows the registration of the equipment that the agency has, its value, its depreciation and the preventive maintenance required to guarantee that there are no interruptions in the operation.
The platform also produces periodic reports on the status of cases, the bodies that the agency receives daily and the spaces available for storage in refrigerated areas, for example. “They are real-time reports, so they allow us to properly manage the status of the case,” she pointed out.
Conte indicated that the ICF receives an average of 20 bodies daily for autopsy or physical examination. Currently, he said, they have a hundred bodies in their custody. The time in which the body is received until a pathologist treats it and a report is generated takes between two to three days in those “regular cases.”
The technology – designed for crime laboratories – was acquired at a cost of $700,000, but required an additional investment of $500,000 to expand storage capacity with the installation of new servers and wireless internet throughout the building.