We often cover a myriad of events that never make it onto the newscast you watch each evening. Often it's a matter of time constraints, or as in today's case, a no-cameras-allowed press briefing. That's a tough sell anywhere on television.
But in the aforementioned example, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) unveiled a fascinating Web-based search engine for tracking arson and explosives intelligence. In the works for two years and called BATS (Bomb Arson Tracking System), it enables the nation's bomb squads and arson investigators to upload their key information, digital photographs and electronic files as well as examine those from their counterparts around the country. According to the ATF, it has helped crack cases around the country. And for those playing along at home, no, you can't access it, it's for law enforcement only.
In appearance, the search engine looks just like any other online retail catalog site, complete with drop down tabs. But instead of choosing a preferred color for their new sweater, the crime-scene investigator would click on a bomb device type. They would then fill in other boxes for such things as location, type of explosive, witness descriptions, etc. and it can be instantly examined by others looking for clues to solve their own cases. The system currently has 37,000 records in it and is being used by all of the nation's 456 bomb squads, according to ATF officials.
The briefing also compared BATS to its more established international counterpart, DFuze. That system has most of the same features as BATS but also has downloadable video so crime scene investigators from particpating nations can watch as well as read valuable information on possible terror incidents. DFuze is currently used by 10 allied nations (think friendlies and not North Korea).