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Ready and waiting.

OCTOBER 7, 2001: The United States military launched Operation Enduring Freedom, opening up the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Two weeks later, Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, pulled the first iPod out of his pocket and introduced it to the world.

In the (albeit sometimes muddled) mind of this editor, the two completely disparate events of October 2001 each played a role in the technology featured in this issue’s article “Mobile Biometrics: The potential for real-time identification in the field” (Page 10). The War on Terror raised the bar on security and identification. The Apple iPod raised the bar on portable electronics. Just as the War on Terror demanded technology become smarter, the Apple iPod demanded technology become smaller.

Granted, we as consumers and professionals have always been moving toward smarter, sleeker electronics. But I would argue that without those two very different, completely unrelated events in October 2001, we would not have as much available to us today—just nine short years later.

This is not a new concept. The electronics technology that law enforcement uses every day often emerges from these two markets: consumer electronics and battlefield technology. The private consumers of technology demand developers to make it sleek, convenient, fast, and portable. The military wants its technology to be durable, powerful, fast, and portable. Consumers want their technology to distract them and make their lives easier. The military wants its technology to eliminate threats and help save lives.

As technology is perfected for the consumer and the warrior, the innovators in law enforcement are there to look for ways to make that technology work for domestic policing purposes.

Never was there a better time to look.

While researching the article on mobile biometrics, I found that technology rolling in from the private sector on one side and from the military on the other is being melded to create a technological infrastructure that makes real-time identification of latent prints in the field a very real possibility. In fact, the technology has already been successful. Nine years ago, the concept would have sounded like science fiction. Now, it seems, all that remains for mobile latent capture and matching to become a full-fledged solution is field testing, validation, and—of course—the available funds to put this technology in the hands of the right people who can put it to good use.

It is remarkable to see how far we have come from the arbitrary starting line of October 2001. And how much more exciting it is to think of where we may be in another nine years.

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Evidence Technology Magazine

"Editorial: Ready and Waiting," written by Kristi Mayo
July-August 2010 (Volume 8, Number 4)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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