On the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the smallest pieces of evidence seem to unlock the entire case in under an hour. However, in real life, DNA forensics is much messier and more complicated than what is shown on TV. DNA forensics involves a lot of details including partial matches, statistics, and forensic scientists using their best judgment when presented with certain evidence.
When it comes to guidelines or standards for forensic labs, there are none. Labs don’t necessarily have to meet a standardized statistical match metric in order to conclude whether or not a suspect was at the scene of a crime.
However, new statistical match software has been introduced to bring new standards and protect the innocent from false matches. The software, called NOCIt (NOC signifying the “number of contributors”) uses analysis to estimate the number of people whose DNA is part of the evidence presented. The partnering software, MATCHit, compares DNA mixtures to the suspect’s DNA in order to find a match, or to prove the suspect innocent when it fails to find a match.
This software has the ability to prove innocent suspects innocent quicker and more efficiently, rather than leaving them to wait on lab results. The software helps make sense of a DNA mixture, which gets complicated in the mix of evidence.
NOCIt and MATCHIt were recently granted an award, making the software more accessible to forensic labs all over the country. Thanks to this software, forensic scientists will be able to draw their conclusions quicker and protect the innocent.