NIST offers guidance on building 21st-century forensic labs

Jul 16, 2013
NIST offers guidance on building 21st-century forensic labs
Designing and constructing forensic science laboratories to meet today's more challenging demands is the goal of a new handbook from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Credit: Anthony Pidgeon/National Library of Medicine

A new National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) handbook provides law enforcement agencies with a detailed how-to guide on the planning, design, construction and relocation of forensic science laboratories. The document not only outlines the process of creating a new crime lab from start to finish, it also provides guidance on integrating the latest scientific developments, efficiency improvements and sustainability practices.

The new handbook is intended for laboratory directors, architects, designers, builders and others who have an interest in planning and constructing the 21st-century or renovating an existing lab to meet today's more challenging forensic science demands. The 98-page NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) 7941, Forensic Science Laboratories: Handbook for Facilities Planning, Design, Construction, and Relocation, can be downloaded from http://www.nist.gov/oles/forensics/facilities_forensics.cfm. Other resources are available on the same website, including a diagram map of the facility planning process, a facility planning checklist and various sample forms and documents.

NISTIR 7941 models itself on the four-phase cycle for creating new laboratory space: planning, design, construction and relocation. One process chapter is devoted to each phase, with each chapter including the following features:

  • Project team roles and responsibilities within the particular process;
  • Process diagrams and narrative descriptions;
  • Tools to support each phase; and
  • An actions checklist.

Many sections also include a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

In April 1998, the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published the first guide for planning and building forensic laboratories as developed by NIST staff. That document has been consistently popular for 15 years, receiving frequent hits on the NIJ website. However, recent developments in as well as in practices have outpaced the original handbook.

NIST convened the Forensic Science Laboratories Facilities Technical Working Group in November 2011 to support the preparation of the new guide. The group included 16 professionals with expertise in laboratory management, planning, architecture and engineering. NIJ provided funding for the project.

Explore further: Flying low during an emergency, from the pilot's point of view

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Special ops troops using flawed intel software

9 hours ago

Special operations troops heading to war zones are asking for commercial intelligence analysis software they say will help their missions. But their requests are languishing, and they are being ordered to use a flawed, in-house ...

Amazon says US too late on drone rules

Mar 24, 2015

Online giant Amazon told Congress on Tuesday the US government is lagging in implementing rules for commercial drones, making it hard to make plans for its quick delivery system by air.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.