Information Management Perspective

At one basic level, a national RBID is technically feasible: Current and projected computer capabilities can handle the information flows associated with such a database. In our assessment, a national RBID would be a sizable but not insurmountable computational challenge and would be within the capacity of existing technology. The human workload necessary to process exhibits and acquire images would be formidable, but possible. In this section we describe this conclusion using basic calculations that—although “back of the envelope” in nature—are meant to be “worst case” projections.

We include computational, networking, staffing, and physical requirements, and impose a number of stricter assumptions (beyond the general nature of the database) in making this analysis. These additional assumptions include:

  1. The work of collecting test-fired exhibits and acquiring images from them will be distributed across a small number of geographic sites. In this, we diverge from the New York CoBIS and Maryland MD-IBIS models, where routing of all database entries through a single site is tractable, and move toward the existing NIBIN model where computational infrastructure is divided across three sites (and entry dispersed over more than 200 localities). Economies of scale are maximized if the workers and machines are clustered into a dozen or less geographic centers. We will assume that there are 10 such data acquisition centers.

  2. Assume a data entry rate of samples from 1 million guns per year, and that image acquisition itself takes approximately 5 minutes. The 5-minute mark follows from our high-level assumption that cartridge cases, and not bullets, are to be imaged into the system, and is a plausible assumption with the current two-dimensional imaging standard. However, it may be an overly optimistic assumption for three-dimensional surface measurement, as it has developed to date (see Chapter 7), if that emerges as the imaging standard for the database. That said, the time needed to acquire three-dimensional measurement data has decreased significantly from the earliest efforts at imaging three-dimensional contours of bullets; with further refinement and automation, a 5-minute acquisition time is not unreasonable in the long run.

  3. Allow 5 minutes per entry for associated tasks, such as barcode reading, preparing and mounting the exhibits, and transporting exhibits between physical storage areas.

  4. Data collection for this national system would run 24 hours a day,

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