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Focus Areas

Justice Workplace & Workforce Technology

Developing, testing, and understanding the impact of new technologies.

For the justice workforce, technology is integral to almost every aspect personal and public safety. In policing and other criminal legal professions, technology standards and advancements are essential for keeping employees and those they serve physically safe; measuring and improving employee health and wellness; training development and implementation, and many other aspects of work in today’s ever-changing environment. 

RTI’s team not only develops and tests new technologies, but also combines technological, physical, and social science research to understand the impacts of technology on attitudes, knowledge, performance, and other key individual and organizational metrics.

Project Highlights 

National Institute of Justice Development of Equipment Standards and Compliance Testing Program (CTP)

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standards and Testing Program fosters development of personal protective equipment standards and related conformity assessment programs that specifically address the needs of law enforcement, corrections, and other criminal justice agencies. The goal is to ensure—to the highest degree possible—that equipment is safe and reliable and performs according to established minimum requirements. The Criminal Justice Testing and Evaluation Consortium (CJTEC), run by RTI, supports these efforts by developing, validating, and maintaining NIJ’s criminal justice equipment standards, including the ballistic- and stab-resistant body armor standards and providing subject matter/technical experts and coordinating meeting logistics for NIJ’s Special Technical Committees (STCs), which are tasked with developing these standards and ensuring practitioners’ needs are addressed. NIJ has also tasked CJTEC with administering the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (CTP), which operates efforts to evaluate ballistic resistance of body armor, stab resistance of personal body armor, and autoloading pistols for police officers, in accordance with the requirements of NIJ standards. 

The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE)

Led by RTI, FTCOE is supported through a Cooperative Agreement from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The FTCOE supports the implementation of new forensic technology and best practices by end users and is dedicated to elevating the status of forensic science through advancing technology, sharing knowledge, and addressing challenges. The FTCOE bridges the gap between the scientific and justice communities by advancing technology, sharing knowledge, and addressing related challenges. The FTCOE advances technology by managing the testing and evaluation of emerging technologies applicable to forensic science; shares knowledge using a blended learning environment consisting of web-based presentations, workshops, specialized events and discussions panels; and addresses challenges by identifying and employing the requirements necessary to drive the adoption of research and development outcomes.

RTI’s Wearables Research and Analytics Platform (WRAP®)

The RTI Wearables Research and Analytics Platform (WRAP), is an automated system for collecting, processing, and analyzing physiological metrics from wearable biosensors. This platform provides an end-to-end approach enabling data collection from wearable devices (e.g., Garmin, Fitbit, Apple) worn by participants. WRAP can be used to streamline an entire wearable-based study lifecycle, including study design, safety and ethics review, device procurement and deployment, participant compliance, and data collection and analysis. Program managers also have the ability to send notifications to participants and conduct surveys through the mobile app. WRAP has been used to examine stress, health, and wellbeing in multiple justice workforce studies, including Understanding Work-Related Stress among Medicolegal Death Investigators: A National Survey and Mixed-Methods Impact Study (NIJ), Adverse Impacts of Organizational Stress on Officer Health and Wellness: Causes, Correlates, and Mitigation (NIJ), and Improving Correctional Officer Health and Well-Being: A Feasibility Assessment of Wearable Devices in Prison Research (RTI Internal Research & Development project).

RTI TrueHue™: A framework for objective image and color analysis

RTI TrueHue is a software platform developed by RTI International for image processing and objective color interpretation. It has been adapted for various end user needs within the forensic science and criminal justice communities to address challenges faced by colorimetric testing as a chemical screening technique for controlled substances. This framework can be customized and adapted to identify the presence or absence of substances of interest for additional applications utilizing testing based on color changes (e.g., water monitoring, immunoassays). RTI TrueHue has been utilized as both a standalone software with a custom user interface and integrated into a small-scale technology solution. This platform utilizes several different image processing, machine learning, and classification techniques to improve different end user workflows. 

Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Testing, and Evaluation

This study aims to address the emerging threats posed by unauthorized drone usage by evaluating counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS). Funded under the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Criminal Justice Testing and Evaluation Consortium (CJTEC) and operated by RTI, the project has three stages: 1) determining C-UAS operational requirements in collaboration with NIJ and DOJ law enforcement components; 2) assessing the performance of individual sensors and systems in a multimodal C-UAS platform; and 3) producing actionable reports for Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement operations. The evaluation involves field tests at a designated FAA UAS Test Site in Blacksburg, VA, which includes tracking UAS across various scenarios. Parameters such as sensor placement, detection latency, detection capabilities, and sensor integration will be examined. Importantly, the study is independent of vendor involvement, providing unbiased insights into C-UAS sensor effectiveness. The outcomes will serve to enhance public safety and national security by bolstering the DOJ’s understanding of countering unauthorized drone threats.

Unified Platform for Modeling (UPmod®)

The Unified Platform for Modeling (UPmod) is a customizable solution for efficiently managing the conception, revision, and publication of data models. UPmod can readily import models created in Excel, R, MATLAB, or Python through a drag-and-drop interface within the platform. This solution has been applied to several projects including a Forensic Technology Center of Excellence resource, a Cost-Benefit Analysis Tool for Labor Expenditure Associated with Sexual Assault Kit Processing Workflows, to provide a resource that forensic science service providers and decision-makers can use to consider investing resources toward implementing a Direct-to-DNA sexual assault kit processing approach in lieu of serology screening. UPmod enables both the modeling team and end users to run models and simulations directly through any web browser.