FBI speeding access to files

As the size of government shrinks, the only way to make it more efficient

is to speed up workers' access to information.

That's the goal of a four-year-old FBI project that will give agents rapid

Web access to a broad range of files — voice, text, video, photographs and

even the binary makeup of electronic communications.

The technology of the bureau's Information Management Project could be applied

to other government functions as well, said David Smith, a senior software

engineer working under contract at the FBI's Office of the Chief Scientist.

Smith, who works at HPTi Inc., Arlington, Va., said the system will enable

agents to search through databases for information and evidence related

to investigations, regardless of file format.

It will also enable agents to bypass having to look up documents that reference

or describe the files they want. Instead, they'll be able to access the

files directly, Smith said, speaking at the GovTech conference in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

The system would even allow for "fuzzy" searches, bringing up references

to search terms that may be spelled differently. For example, Smith said,

a fuzzy search for "Smith" also would bring up results including the variation

"Smyth" and even a misspelling such as "Smiht."

Smith would not say when the FBI hopes to complete development of the system,

which is being tested at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The tests simulate the demand on a server of thousands of end users using

Web browsers to request documents. The bureau would like to see a response

time of less than two minutes even under maximum use. The typical response

time would be about 15 seconds, Smith said.


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