Data Science Meets CSI

August 23, 2012 Paul M. Davis

Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I wouldn’t hold my breath for CSI: Palo Alto quite yet, but as Jon Bruner at O’Reilly Radar observes, data scientists could serve the public good as data-diving amateur sleuths. Bruner proposes this after reading the disturbing story of Javier Reveron, who went missing in 2004, was reported to a missing person’s database in 2010, and whose long-dead body was only identified by authorities two weeks ago. “Reveron’s ordeal suggests an intriguing, and impactful, machine-learning problem,” writes Bruner.

“The Department of Justice maintains separate national, public databases for missing people, unidentified people and unclaimed people.” The natural language data that comprises so many of the records in these separate databases make it difficult for authorities to link reports and correlate useful data in their cases. Bruner contacted the DOJ to inquire whether authorities have tapped data scientists to address these issues, or if they have considered opening up anonymized data to the community, but has yet to report a response. Read more at O’Reilly Radar.

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