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NCJ Number: 236606 Find in a Library
Title: Observations of a Validation: The Full-Scale Implementation of Automation in a Small Casework Laboratory
Journal: Forensic Magazine  Volume:8  Issue:5  Dated:October/November 2011  Pages:19-22
Author(s): Sara E. Hochendoner
Date Published: November 2011
Page Count: 4
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article draws lessons from a small casework laboratory’s implementation and validation of a full-scale conversion to automation.
Abstract: In late 2008, the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner Forensic Laboratory (Pennsylvania) began the full-scale conversion to automation with the increased use of information technology within the workflow of the Forensic Biology Section. As part of a federally funded grant through the National Institute of Justice, the forensic biology process was evaluated for bottlenecks that could be alleviated through the application of automation and computer systems. Several points in the process that caused inefficiency were identified. Those areas included microscopic examination of sexual assault samples; sample extraction for DNA processing; and set-up for quantitation, amplification, and capillary electrophoresis, as well as DNA data analysis. All of the identified bottlenecks had the characteristics suitable for automation, i.e., they were work intensive and highly repetitive. The addition of new chemistries was also planned as a means of optimizing the amount of information obtained from a sample, while also identifying the most advantageous inlet into the DNA workflow for samples being processed. This article provides technical information on lessons learned from this process, along with the execution of the validation study for complete conversion to automation. The author advises that the most important points to be learned from the experiences of this laboratory are the importance of careful consideration of the existing system and intended improvements when planning the validation and the distribution of knowledge when performing the validation. Both measures will ensure the successful execution and completion of a full-scale validation of automation. 2 figures, 2 tables, and 3 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Automation; Crime laboratories; Crime laboratory management; DNA fingerprinting; Efficiency; Pennsylvania
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