Global database to link missing persons and disaster victims in development by INTERPOL and European partners

30 July 2010

LYON, France – A project to assist in the faster identification of multiple victims or missing persons following a man-made or natural disaster and in day-to-day policing is being spearheaded by INTERPOL in collaboration with five European partners.

The FAST and efficient international disaster victim IDentification (FASTID) project is being developed with experts from the German Federal Criminal Police Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the IOSB and IGD Institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany, Danish company PlassData, the University of Dundee and Crabbe Consulting Ltd, with co-funding from the European Union’s seventh framework programme.

Following the Asian tsunami in 2004, the INTERPOL General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2005, recognizing the need to establish a centralized database to identify and link missing persons and/or unidentified bodies.

Based on INTERPOL’s tools, including its globally recognized Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) protocols combined with its Yellow Notices, for missing persons, and Black Notices, to seek information on unidentified bodies, the FASTID project is aimed at providing a ‘one stop shop’ for teams in the field either responding to a disaster or national police trying to locate a missing person.

 “After a major tragedy, such as the Asian tsunami, it is vital that with so many countries involved either in terms of victims or first responders, that there are standardized and recognized procedures to ensure the fast and efficient identification of victims so that they can be repatriated as quickly as possible,” said Peter Ambs, INTERPOL’s FASTID project leader.

“The combined elements of this database and its accessibility to law enforcement across the world via INTERPOL’s global network will help meet the needs of both day to day policing and for those responding to disasters, where and when required,” added Mr Ambs.

As part of the FASTID project, research is also being carried out into image retrieval methods, including a computerized system to browse and identify potential matches to help forensic identification in relation to faces, tattoos, body jewellery and clothing.

In addition to commonly used identifying methods, such as fingerprints, dental and DNA information, craniofacial reconstruction, 3D morphing and superimposition will also be examined by the project team to establish if these techniques can also be implemented and integrated into the system.