The Italian Almanac

supercomputer

Italian News - May 16

A police forensics laboratory in Rome is using a powerful supercomputer developed by Silicon Graphics to create a three-dimensional replica of a crime scene, to help solve murder cases. The system is being used in Rome by a laboratory called the RiTriDEC (Ricostruzione Tridemensionale dell'Evento Criminale - Criminal Event Tridimensional Reconstruction), operated by the Italian state police for criminal analysis.

Data gathered from the scene of a crime is fed into the SGI system. As soon as possible after a homicide, a technician will enter the crime scene, where he or she uses laser scanner beams to scan the entire location. The pulse of the laser calculates how long it takes for the laser to be reflected back, and gets the distance from each end of the room, or the distance one object is from another in the room. These measurements also calculate the placement of the body and the trajectory of a bullet, or possible other murder weapons. All the data that was scanned with the laser is then fed into the SGI supercomputer.

The system can also capture the smallest details in a crime scene, which is essential to investigators. Carlo Bui, who supervises the project for the Italian police, said that in studying the scene of a crime, an investigator must behave like an art critic, and grasp even the smallest details within the scene.