FAST and efficient international disaster victim IDentification

A project is under way to create the first ever police database to identify and link missing persons and unidentified bodies on an international level.

The FAST and efficient international disaster victim IDentification (FASTID) Project was launched on 1 April 2010 with an overall budget of almost EUR 3 million, co-funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) – Theme no. 10 Security. 

Thanks to INTERPOL and its Consortium partners – the German Federal Criminal Police Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the IOSB and IGD Institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany, the Danish company PlassData, the University of Dundee in Scotland and Crabbe Consulting Ltd – the project will establish an international system to manage enquiries concerning missing persons and unidentified bodies in the event of disasters as well as day-to-day policing.

Filling a gap in data exchange

To date, no centralized police database exists either on a regional or global level in order to identify and link missing persons and/or unidentified bodies (MPUB).

Some countries are running national MPUB databases and using the “DVI International” software from Plassdata (a software maker) for Disaster Victim Identification but these are not interlinked.

The need to create an international MPUB database was recognized in a resolution (AG-2005-RES-07) adopted at the INTERPOL General Assembly meeting in 2005 (Berlin, Germany).

As a result, an INTERPOL Working Group was set up to establish the general requirements for the database and a project proposal for funding.

Decentralized access

The MPUB database at INTERPOL's General Secretariat in Lyon will have decentralized access for use in conjunction with disasters and everyday policing.

It will be based on INTERPOL’s Ante-Mortem (AM) Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) and Post-Mortem (PM) DVI forms together with Yellow Notice (missing persons) and Black Notice (unidentified bodies) forms.

Currently accepted minimum international standards for the collection of data to identify victims and software will serve as a starting point, while rich Internet application methods and additional identification techniques will enhance the system.

The database will include its own search capabilities for some identifiers and will interface with other databases for others, for example, fingerprints, DNA.

It will be accessible to INTERPOL National Central Bureaus and DVI teams via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 and https (secured Internet) communication systems. It will be integrated and synchronized with INTERPOL’s I-link in order to ensure coherent and consistent data in both systems.

Comprehensive training

A users' guide will be designed to facilitate standard reporting and explain the terminology used in the INTERPOL forms to ensure the proper quality of the data recorded and appropriate international use.

This will form the foundation for a full online training programme that will be developed using the most effective and efficient means to guarantee that countries and organizations adopt a common operational methodology.

Forensic research

Research will be conducted into image retrieval methods for assisting forensic identification with respect to faces, body modifications (e.g. tattoos), jewellery and clothing.

3D morphing, craniofacial reconstruction and superimposition approaches will also be examined for this application. Those that provide the best results will be integrated into the core system.