Data Set Gun firing

Published on July 21st, 2016 | by Joshua New


Advancing the Forensic Science of Firearm Identification

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched the NIST Ballistics Toolmark Research Database, a freely accessible database designed to improve forensic techniques used to match bullets to the gun that fired them. The database consists of microscopic images and 3D topographical information known as “toolmark data”—distinct physical characteristics imprinted on bullets and cartridges by a gun, such as striations a rifle barrel scrapes into a bullet or the impressions a firing pin makes on a cartridge. Forensic researchers use visual matching techniques based on this toolmark data to match bullets to the gun that fired them, however these techniques are imperfect and can limit the value of this data to aid investigations. With NIST’s new database, researchers can easily share toolmark data and use this data to develop and validate new algorithms and statistical techniques that can improve firearm identification.

Get the data.

Image: Niels Noordhoek

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About the Author

Joshua New is a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation. He has a background in government affairs, policy, and communication. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, Joshua graduated from American University with degrees in C.L.E.G. (Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government) and Public Communication. His research focuses on methods of promoting innovative and emerging technologies as a means of improving the economy and quality of life. Follow Joshua on Twitter @Josh_A_New.

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