Editorial

Welcome 2017
Wendy Van Moer

A new year has come! Together with a new year, 2017 brings us a lot of new I&M Magazine gifts! New topics, new articles, new discussions, and not to forget: new columnists!

Our column “Future trends”’ appeared for the first time in our October 2014 issue. I felt so honored when Simona Salicone agreed to start up this column. She put her heart into it and made this column a huge success. After more than two years of excellent work, Simona passes the torch to Irina Florea in this issue. She will take care of the “Future trends” column for the next two years. I am a very proud and honored EIC, as Irina gladly accepted my invitation for this challenging work. Thank you so much, Simona, for the great work and welcome on board, Irina.

If we look back to 2016, it was a great year with happiness and success, but also some sadness. We lost our dear friend and columnist Bryan Kibble. He started our successful column “Basic Metrology,” which was appreciated by all our readers. In the beginning of 2016, Bryan was already thinking about Richard Davis as a good successor. I could not agree more with Bryan, as Richard is the perfect person to continue Bryan’s excellent work. Welcome on board, Richard and let us remember Bryan for all his great work.

This February issue is all about Instrumentation and Measurement in CSI! We did not have to look very long for the perfect guest editor for this special issue… She is sitting in our own editorial board: Veronica Scotti. I would like to thank Veronica for her excellent work! Last, but not least, we have plenty of other exciting articles covering different topics! Go and discover it yourself on the next pages of this issue!

Let us make 2017 even better than 2016! Enjoy!
Groetjes, Wendy

Guest Editorial
Profiling: A Promising Field for Metrologists
Veronica Scotti

This issue of the Magazine is dedicated to profiling, which is an interesting subject not yet completely explored by metrologists who could really contribute to improve it through their skills and competencies. That is why I have asked some experts in this field to contribute to this issue to share their vision on some specific aspects of profiling.

More and more frequently, judicial cases are decided on a technical basis related to scientific evidence or supposed scientific evidence. Especially when profiling is concerned, legal proceedings often come to debatable conclusions because measurement uncertainty is not carefully considered: its evaluation would lead to solutions, which could differ from the verdict returned by the trier of facts.

If the United States and European legal systems are compared from a metrological perspective, by considering the measurement activities performed by technical experts, it is undeniable that the United States approach has been changing since the famous Daubert sentence in 1993 [JUSTICA U.S. Supreme Court. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/509/579/ case.html]. In the sentence, Judge J. Blackmun of the Supreme Court affirmed the principle related to uncertainty in scientific matters when he wrote:

[I]t would be unreasonable to conclude that the subject of scientific testimony must be ‘known’ to a certainty; arguably there are no certainties in science.

The increasing awareness of these aspects led the U.S. courts to consider that, if the experimental sciences cannot provide certain answers, not only uncertain opinions could be allowed, but also it should be forbidden for the expert witnesses to provide absolutely certain opinions. On the European Courts side, they rely on scientific evidence and consider their value extremely relevant or crucial in solving the case without taking into account that all scientific knowledge is limited when it concerns well-assessed methods, experiments, and laboratory tests. Unfortunately, the decisions are often taken (made) only on a single piece of evidence, obtained by a technical or scientific activity, without considering the existence (or not) of other elements. This is clearly evident in criminal proceedings that involve or require DNA analysis or other tests which allow identification (maybe!) of the perpetrator(s) of a crime.

Do you think that a DNA analysis or a fingerprint analysis is enough to identify somebody unknown? Are you sure that those tests are so infallible and incontrovertible? Let me suggest that you read the articles in this issue before answering those questions.

I think you will appreciate the overview reported by Ted Vosk and Henry Swofford on the state of the art in fingerprint recognition activity where they wrote:

This is likely always to be an issue where humans, who are by their very nature non-standardized from a strict metrological standpoint, play the role of the measuring instrument.

In this area, an effort is required by the scientific community to identify a standardized method to compare samples and to establish a unified system of evaluation, as objective as possible, regardless of a personal human contribution.

Then you will find a brief comment by Alessandro Ferrero on DNA analysis from the point of view of metrologists, especially considering the role of measurement uncertainty and related principles, and rules applied to this identification method. After that, an unusual system is presented to investigate individual identity through bite marks. It is useful when it is not possible to identify someone by other means (such as DNA); thanks to Aimé Conigliaro and Charles Georget, from the Criminal Research Institute of the French “Gendarmerie.” Finally, see that this profiling method hides some unknowns, which could be better explored by applying basic rules of metrology.

This kind of overview allows us to understand the relevant role that metrology could and should play in forensic matters to reduce the risk of incorrect investigations and, consequently, incorrect or unfair decisions. There is an increasing need for an expert technical and scientific support in the legal field, which also requires cooperation and dialogue between metrologists and the law community to build solid ground on which a new way to consider circumstances can be established and be useful to evaluate responsibilities.

You may contact Veronica Scotti at veronica.scotti@gmail. com. Her bio is available at http://ieee-ims.org/contacts/ veronica-scotti.

 

 

ATI Industrial Automation

MegaPhase

Trimble Navigation Limited

Astronics Test Systems

Marvin Test Systems

Mini-Circuits

Omega Engineering, Inc.

Virginia Panel Corporation

Robotdalen

Astronics DME Corportation

Pickering Interfaces Inc.

RADX Technologies, Inc.

Zurich Instruments AG

To all Companies,
Please send your “New Products” information for possible inclusion in the IEEE I&M Magazine to:

Robert M. Goldberg
1360 Clifton Ave.
PMB 336
Clifton, NJ 07012 USA

E-mail: r.goldberg@ieee.org