2018 Government Innovation Awards
A proven program, rebuilt from the ground up
The FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) isn’t new, but the cloud has given it a makeover worthy of a witness protection program.
Rather than replacing a tool built on a now-unsupported solution, Program Manager Nathan Graham and his team decided to revamp it, move it to the cloud and switch to open-source Elasticsearch technology.
ViCAP helps 2,500 users identify and stop violent serial criminals by linking seemingly unconnected crimes. Graham said the program is gaining a new graphical user interface, improved search capabilities, integrated geospatial search and analysis, interactive timelines and anomaly detection.
“Let’s say the crime analyst searches a set of cases for unidentified remains in a state, and that some significant portion of the cases have a unique weapon as evidence,” he said. “That anomaly would be made visible as an unasked theme. The analyst did not ask. The crime analyst could pin the query, and when additional cases involving evidence of that type occur, the system alerts.”
The bureau applied an extract, transform, load process to update ViCAP and hired part-time subject-matter experts to produce a prototype in six weeks. It was built using an Elasticsearch instance created in Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud that pulls data from ViCAP’s Oracle database and transforms it for compatibility with Elasticsearch so that it can be formatted for querying, reporting and visualization.
For now, a 32-bit Microsoft FAST Search Server is still in play, but the Oracle database is scheduled to be updated by AWS while Graham makes more tweaks before moving a minimally upgraded version of the tool into production.
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