FBI Data Management A Tough Case

from the not-looking-good dept

As the US government gets ready to build a super spy computer system connecting all sorts of information, comes this other news about just how backwards the FBI’s computer system currently is. Last month, when the DC sniper was all the rage, the FBI’s special call center equipped with their “Rapid Start Information Management System”, wasn’t really that high tech (and it makes you wonder about the FBI’s definition of “Rapid Start”). Operators would take down notes from incoming calls onto paper forms, which they would put into a box. Every hour, the forms would be collected and sent somewhere else to be digitized and entered into the “Rapid Start” system. That just gives you one example of how screwed up the FBI is at managing their data. Maybe they should be taking the money that’s going to John Poindexter and his super spy computer, and put it towards doing something that’s actually useful.

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Comments on “FBI Data Management A Tough Case”

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dorpus says:

Special case

Yes, the FBI is decades behind in many areas. And there is some incentive to keep it that way — paper records are more secure than digital records. Digital records are vulnerable to viruses and hackers; the data is easy to replicate. Paper records can be kept locked in vaults.

The field offices use a 1950s tele-terminal wire system to send messages to each others. It’s never been hacked, as far as anyone knows.

Law enforcement is one field where IT tools are still not too useful. 99% of investigative work is still about interviewing people, and computers are almost entirely useless there. Theoretically, fingerprints, DNA, license plates, can be instantly matched through computers; in reality, the partial fingerprints, fingerprints of an unrelated by-passer, contaminated DNA, and fake license plates make computers often useless.

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