NEWS

How 9-11 Has Driven Technology Advancements

By Carlton Purvis
 
 
 
If a person was wearing a turtleneck or their neck was covered, the machine couldn’t read their blood pressure. The machine was developed for use in the southwest but couldn’t handle dusty conditions. And something as subtle as a beard was enough to throw off the system that measured facial movements.
The kiosk is an example of technology that may not have been a priority before 9-11 but that now generates interest.
Nunamaker and his team are currently working on improving the technology based on those field tests and the latest tests were able to pick up deceit in 93 percent of subjects.
 
New DNA Technology a Result of 9-11
 
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had a significant effect on forensics, one panelist said. It pushed forensics technology decades forward in a matter of years.
 
One of the main hurdles when identifying victims from the World Trade Center attack was the degradation of DNA from high temperatures and burning chemicals. Prior to the attacks, there was no established plan for identification of thousands of victims under such extremes. Researchers knew they could extract DNA from bodies, but in many cases, they were left with just bone fragments.
 
“The process had never been done before,” said Robert Shaler, professor at biochemistry and molecular biology at Pennsylvania State who worked with the New York medical examiner’s office after the attacks. “We were learning this as we went along.”
 
Shaler said the Kinship and Data Analysis Panel was created with funding from the NIJ. After the attacks, M-FISys, an extensive database that helps families identify remains, was created. Researcher Charles Brenner developed a module for paternity-type tests to aid in identification and OSIRIS, a free program helps managing and analysis of samples. 
 
Researchers have also developed ways to extract more data from smaller sample sizes. 
 
photo by Viktor Nagornyy from Flickr

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