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 February 2006 From the Editor's Desk
E-mail Maryann Gorman

New Communities

One of the first issues of SN for which I acquired feature articles was the April 1995 edition on forensic sciences. Back then, Committee E30 on Forensic Sciences was celebrating its 25th anniversary and, even though the computer age was well under way, standards for computer forensics were not even on the radar screen. Nor was anyone considering standardizing the practice of investigating incidents of environmental contamination for forensic purposes.

But times have changed, that millennium has been tucked into history, and computer and environmental investigations are two 21st-century areas of the forensic sciences that you will find described in feature articles in this issue. ASTM International has established standards development activities for each that will begin to codify methodology, terminology, and personnel qualifications, to name just a few areas.

In his article beginning on page 26, John Barbara describes computer forensics, which is being explored by Committee E30. It’s a fascinating and wide-ranging discipline, so cutting edge that, as Barbara puts it, it changes weekly. A computer forensics expert may analyze analog or digital video, search a hard drive for intact or nearly-erased documents, or look into the memory of a personal digital assistant or the data saved in a cell phone. In response to quality and certification standards developed recently by The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accrediting Board, some computer forensic experts are asking how their labs and personnel can meet those criteria, and working within Committee E30 may hold the key.

Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action has taken the environmental forensics contingent under its wing as Subcommittee E50.06 on Forensic Environmental Investigations. Experts in environmental forensics investigate environmental contaminations that are subject to dispute resolution. For this relatively new field (its peer-reviewed journal began publication in 2000), the desire to standardize the processes and personnel qualifications of environmental forensic scientists arose from successful courtroom challenges to their qualifications and competence. Steve Hilfiker describes the standards development plans of the new subcommittee in his article beginning on page 30.

Since that 1995 issue featuring Committee E30, it has been a decade filled with developments in law enforcement and courtroom practices. As in response to so many other advances in science and industry, ASTM International’s volunteer members are experts in coming together for the good of their field and the citizens and consumers they serve. As the title of John Lentini’s feature overview of E30’s liaison work says, “it takes a community.”

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

 
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