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New Digital Ink Library to speed up document investigation


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WASHINGTON: Analysing ink samples to determine a document's origin can be a lengthy and time consuming process, but a new Digital Ink Library is set to change all that.

Currently, the International Ink Library managed by the U.S. Secret Service is used by police to analyse an ink sample. But the process is tedious.

To speed up the painstaking process and ensure its continued accuracy, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T;) teamed up to support the development of a library that has these materials in electronic form, resulting in the Digital Ink Library.

The Library is a searchable database containing the electronic version of the International Ink Library's collection.

"With this digitized search system, search times through the repository are reduced to minutes, resulting in a list of potential candidates available for comparison," said Robert Ramotowski, chief research scientist with the Secret Service Forensic Services Division.

Ink of different types creates their own colour bands, thus forming a "fingerprint."

Scientists compare the unknown sample's bands to known samples to find a match. The software automatically selects the known samples that most closely match the ink of interest.

"The e-case system renders the overall examination more transparent and allows [users] to search and retrieve case archives, which is useful when there is a need to go to court several years after the actual processing of evidence," Dr. Cedric Neumann, professor at Pennsylvania State University, said.

"This is a quantum leap forward for the field of forensic question documents," said Shane Cullen, program manager in the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Investigative Technologies program area at the DHS S&T; Command, Control, and Interoperability Division (CCI).
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