March 5, 2008

Fighting Crime with Hair! And Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture analyzes problem areas in an organization and identifies gap, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities. It uses this information to drive business process improvement, reengineering, and the introduction of new technologies.

Enterprise architecture can benefit any process or problem area, even the difficult area of solving crimes.

Crime fighting has long faced major problems, such as identifying murder victims and tracking their killers. Now new technologies and associated analytical processes are being introduced to help solve these murder mysteries.

MIT Technology Review, 27 February 2008, reports that “Researchers at the University of Utah say that they are able to determine a person's recent travel history by comparing the isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen in a strand of his or her hair.”

The study, which was published February 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found a strong correlation between the isotopes in the water that a person drinks and the isotopes in her hair.”

The hair closest to the root indicates where a person has been most recently. The longer the hair, the more recorded history the researchers have to work with. Hair grows one millimeter every three days, so if the hair is 20 centimeters long, that represents about 20 months' worth of history, says Ehleringer.”

Hair analysis is considered a major breakthrough for law enforcement in helping detectives narrow locations where a murder victims and their perpetrators have been and ultimately to identify them.

In the case of hair analysis for crime solving, the enterprise architecture solution actually crosses all three technology areas—information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Hair analysis involves evaluating hydrogen and oxygen isotopes (biotechnology) in various regions’ water and air and comparing that to molecules from a person’s hair follicles (nanotechnology) using technologies called mass spectrometers (information technology), and then analyzing “geographic region of origin and travel history of humans” through predictive modeling (information technology).

As an enterprise architect, we look to deliver mission performance and results of operations through technology enablement. These technologies can take the form of information technologies, biotechnologies, or nanotechnologies. The use of these technologies in combination can solve even the toughest problem areas.


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