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4/12/2007
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Supercomputing Power Used To Find Sex Offenders When Children Go Missing

A new tool from LexisNexis integrates maps, information from local police departments, records on 300 million U.S. residents and visitors, and details about the 600,000 sex offenders.

LexisNexis has a new tool that uses supercomputing power to help police zero in on registered and unregistered sex offenders immediately after a child is reported missing.

The company's Advanced Investigative Solution, launched Wednesday, incorporates LexisNexis' Advanced Sex Offender Search technology with its Enterprise Data Fusion System. The tool integrates maps, information from local police departments, records on 300 million U.S. residents and visitors, as well as details about the 600,000 sex offenders living in the United States.

AIS helps investigators locate relatives of missing or unregistered offenders, figure out where the offenders have been, and determine possible whereabouts of those who have failed to register their addresses with authorities.

Jim Peck, CEO of LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group, said during an interview that his company updates its records weekly to help track an estimated 100,000 offenders that authorities would lose track of otherwise.

"Approximately one in six convicted sex offenders fail to properly report their current whereabouts to authorities, posing a daunting crime problem that requires collaboration amongst private industry, law enforcement, and government," Peck said.

Armando Escalante, CTO of the company's risk management, said a supercomputing-based system distributes data across 400 nodes that work together as one computer capable of processing 4 billion combinations. Though the results are not definitive, they quickly point police to the doors they should be knocking on during an investigation.

"We can start linking the records in a way that we know who these people are and where they've been," he said during an interview. "It gives us a good picture of who these guys are, who are their neighbors, relatives and associates, and where they could be."

LexisNexis has provided lawyers and other professionals with information services for about 30 years. Twenty years ago, businesses, academic institutions, and others began taking advantage of the company's vast information databases. In the 1990s, LexisNexis began creating applications to address societal problems, Peck said. That includes: fraud, terrorism and sex offense tracking and prevention.

"The reason that the government and society want these people registered is that they are four times as likely to re-commit their crimes as others," Peck said. "Only one in 10 is in jail. The rest are out in society, with us, and they tend to commit their crimes around where they, or their relatives, live."

When a child is abducted by a sexual predator, speed can be the difference between life and death. A 2006 national study on child abductions that ended in murder revealed that in 76% of cases in which a child was killed by an abductor, the child died within the first three hours. Washington State researchers working with the U.S. Department of Justice found that in more than 60% of cases, it took two hours for someone to realize a child was missing and report it to police.

AIS provides a map, which allows police to mark the area where an incident is reported, highlight schools, daycare centers, and the homes of offenders and their relatives.

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