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Technology

Canada's National DNA Data Bank relies heavily on robotic technology to dramatically speed up the processing and analysis of DNA samples. The robotics, combined with a world-class inventory and sample tracking system allows the National DNA Data Bank personnel to process more samples in less time and at a significantly lower cost than other facilities around the world.

There are two significant and mission-critical scientific technology  components of the National DNA Data Bank operation. The first is the Sample Tracking and Control System (STaCS™), which tracks and provides high throughput and safeguards for the processing, integrity and privacy of DNA samples. The second is the COmbined DNA Index System, (CODIS), a software program provided at no cost to the RCMP by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice.

The Sample Tracking and Control System was designed and built to achieve the following major objectives:

  • High throughput and process control for DNA samples in the National DNA Data Bank;
  • Management reporting and control;
  • Continuity of handling for DNA samples
  • Quality assurance and control; and,
  • Partial cost recovery through licensing agreements.

STaCS™ integrates instrumentation with process and ensures that advances in DNA forensic identification technology and sample tracking can be applied to large scale DNA typing and comparison in the most efficient manner. The objective of the system is to provide a mechanism for creating a database of known convicted offenders and a process by which the profile data can be formatted for entry into CODIS. The STaCS™ information system tracks, controls and documents all the steps in a process that converts biological samples (blood, buccal or hair) from convicted offenders into simplified numeric DNA profiles. These profiles can then be matched against DNA profiles generated from samples found at crime scenes. It also ensures that the whereabouts of each sample and all of its derivatives are accounted for and provides essential data for troubleshooting the scientific process.

STaCS™ provides an important accountability record for all maintenance, sample manipulation, machine/human interface and quality assurance that is fundamental to valid and reliable DNA processing.

COmbined DNA Index System (CODIS)

The purpose of the COmbined DNA Index System (CODIS) is to create a national information repository where forensic laboratory professionals can share DNA information.
Law enforcement agencies can cross-reference their DNA information with that of other agencies across the country via a network linking the six RCMP forensic laboratories, the two provincial laboratories in Ontario and Quebec and the National DNA Data Bank.
This "cross-referencing" has the potential to produce DNA matches among previously unrelated cases. There are approximately a dozen countries currently using the CODIS software in their investigative forensic data banks. Another 14 countries are evaluating it as the preferred international standard format to ensure compatibility and an acceptably high level of quality assurance and security.

The DNA profiles in the Crime Scene Index are provided by our partner forensic laboratories (the six RCMP laboratories and the two provincial laboratories). This demonstrates how the National DNA Data Bank, on behalf of the National Police Services is working in cooperation to assist all police investigation agencies across Canada