Increase in the incidences of crime across the globe has posed concerns across the globe. In the statistics presented by world population review 2023, Venezuela, a country from South America, stands at the first position in the list of highest crime rates. This aside, incidences of robbery, homicide, murder, and rape have increased notably across the globe from the past few years. The crime rate in the United States is 47.70. These statistics highlight the need for focusing on the development and utilization of advanced forensic technologies in order to resolve crime cases.
With rise in the number of crimes across the globe, government authorities and private organizations from developed and developing countries are taking initiatives in order to support researches focused of forensic technologies. This factor presents significant growth opportunities for the forensic technologies industry. A report by Transparency Market Research projects the global forensic technologies market to advance at a CAGR of 13.2% between 2021 and 2028. The industry is anticipated to reach US$ 87.4 Bn by the end of 2028.
What is Forensic Science?
Forensic science refers to usage of scientific expertise or techniques in order to perform investigation on crimes incidences or study evidence, which could be presented in a court. Forensic scientists utilize various sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and others, in order to resolve crimes cases. Forensic reports play important role in deciding the road map of crime investigation.
Generally, forensic investigations are performed using blood samples, tissues, fingerprints, and teeth, bones, hair, and skin samples collected from the crime scene. Some of the key equipment and procedures utilized in the crime investigation include data examination & charting tools, DNA confirmation equipment, record management systems (RMS), closed circuit televisions (CCTV), and license plate recognition (LPR) systems.
Contamination in any evidence or sample collected from the site of crime can impact overall investigation. Laboratory settings are known for effective and efficient handling of samples received for investigation purposes. Hence, outcomes of the tests performed at laboratory settings are of high level of precision. Enterprises engaged in the forensic technologies industry are focusing on adoption of technological developments, such as laboratory information management software (LIMS), in order to carry out numerous tasks at a time in laboratory settings. Such initiatives shows potential growth of this industry at rapid pace.
What are Different Technologies Used in Forensic Science?
In forensic science, various technologies are utilized by scientists while performing criminal investigations. Let’s discuss some of the prominent technologies in use at present.
1. DNA Profiling and Fingerprint Analysis
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of each individual is distinctive, similar to fingerprints. Hence, DNA profiling can assist forensic professionals in identification of an individual or elimination of suspects from the accused list. Some of the key biological evidence utilized for DNA profiling include skin, blood, saliva, urine, hair, and semen of the crime suspect. Generally, DNA fingerprints cannot be utilized as a sole piece of evidence in the court. On the other hand, usage of DNA profiling has increased in the past few years as a key forensic technique in criminal investigations.
2. Carbon Dot Powders
Fingerprints recorded at crime scenes can play key part in overall investigation of crime. However, finding fingerprints can be a difficult tasks due to several factors, such as low contrast, high toxicity, or low sensitivity. In such cases, scientists can utilize a fluorescent carbon dot powder that can make fingerprints fluorescent under UV light, making them easy to examine. Usage of carbon dot powder makes glow fingerprints in different colors, such as yellow, orange, or red, making them visually clear.
With significant developments in forensic science during the period of past few years, utilization of nanotechnology has increased in various forensic investigations across the globe. In-depth study of forensic materials can provide scientists important insights, which were not visible prior to the application of nanotechnology. Nanosensors are used order to inspect the presence or absence of explosive materials, biological agents, and illegal drugs on molecular level. Adoption of nanotechnology has increased in the past few years, as the outcomes of the study performed are free from human biases. Moreover, usage of this form of forensic technology can accelerate the process of investigation, while maintaining the highest level of precision in it.
Earlier, DNA was considered most dependable source of information when it came to determining a victim or suspect. Advancements in technologies focused on the detection and identification of protein have turned proteomes into a crucial forensic science tool. Proteomes can be defined as an inclusive set of proteins developed by an organism. Proteomes can be detected in bones, blood, and other biological materials. They can be effectively utilized to find answers for several critical questions in crime investigations. One of the key advantages of proteomes is that they experience change with time, a trait that can be helpful for scientists in gaining important insights into age or other environmental aspects of a victim at the time of their death. Such insights are otherwise difficult to discover using other techniques.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Usage of artificial intelligence (AI) is somewhat new in the field of forensic science as compared to several other fields. One of the key reasons for this being all evidences and analysis have to stand up in the court. With rapid technological advancements, AI is being successfully utilized in forensic components of criminal cases. AI finds application in various aspects, such as comparing fingerprint data, analyzing crime scene, and finalizing conclusions from photograph comparisons.
Foldscope refers to a disposable, small, cost-effective paper microscope, application of which has increased in the forensic science from the past few years. While the tool has gained immense popularity and adoption in the field of forensic technology owing to its portable nature, the conclusion made utilizing this technique are considered preliminary, and need further investigations supporting the same. Foldscope can be utilized in the field in order to make fast determinations about various forensic samples, such as hair, soil, and blood.
Rapid Adoption of Forensic Technologies in Developed Countries
Usage of varied advanced forensic technologies is higher in developed countries as opposed to other regions of the globe. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) estimates 11% rise in requirement for forensic science technicians in the U.S. during the period of 2021 to 2031. The country has also increased its R&D initiatives in order to develop and apply advanced scientific approaches and technologies in the crime investigation.
Scientists and technicians working in crime laboratories of the U.S. are focusing on the development of technologies that can prevent imprisonment of innocent and take criminals to justice. Such initiatives are creating significant opportunities for the expansion of the forensic technologies industry. Law enforcement agencies from North America have shown more positive approach when it comes to the acceptance of forensics techniques. Moreover, adoption of this technique is significantly high in developed countries across private organizations from varied industry verticals, such as healthcare.
The competition landscape of the global forensic technologies industry is quite fierce, due to the presence of many well-entrenched companies, such as Eurofins Medigenomix GmbH, AB Sciex (Danaher Corporation), Forensic Pathways, GE Healthcare Lifescience, and Forensics Consulting Solutions.
Leading providers of forensic technologies are investing heavily in R&D activities in order to develop and launch next-generation products. Moreover, they are adopting strategies, such as merger, acquisition, partnership in order to stay ahead of the competition. These factors are likely to help in the overall industry growth in the next few years.
About the Author
Trupti Dhere. Apart from being a professional content writer, Trupti has keen interest in keeping track of technological advancements in the healthcare industry. She believes in presenting complex information from the healthcare industry in layman’s language. With total 6+ years of content writing/editing experience, she is associated with TMR--one of the leading market research companies in India-- from the past 3 years. When she is not writing, she loves trekking, cooking, and spending time with her family.