Australia and Vietnam start using Bonaparte

In addition to Interpol, Australia and Vietnam will now also start using the identification software Bonaparte. Vietnam will use the software to identify tens of thousands of victims of the Vietnam War. Australia will be using the software to improve the accuracy of identification investigations.

Commissioned by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), Radboud University Nijmegen developed the software in 2007. Bonaparte has been developed in 2007 for large-scale DNA identification investigations. Development and improvement of the software has continued, and it is now also being used for DNA-kinship analysis for the Missing Persons DNA database, in Familial Searches (looking for relatives based on offender DNA-profiles) in the DNA database for criminal cases and at the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

DNA profile

Australia: Optimising DNA analysis

Radboud University’s Stichting Neurale Netwerken (Dutch Foundation for Neural Networks or SNN) won the tender in Australia with its submission of Bonaparte. The tender was issued in efforts to further optimise DNA analysis techniques in that country. CrimTrac (national information sharing service for Australian police) will use Bonaparte for comparing DNA profiles for the DNA database for criminal cases, for Familial Searches, for identification investigations and for the missing persons database. The program will be used by all the federal territories in Australia. The number of users is expected to exceed 200.

Vietnam: identifying war victims

In Vietnam, Bonaparte will be used for ‘Project 150’. The objective of this 10-year project is to identify a minimum of 80,000 of the 650,000 unknown victims of the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung started this project which has grown to become the largest DNA identification investigation in history.

Building family trees

Bonaparte makes it possible to identify victims on the basis of DNA. In a matter of minutes, Bonaparte can place DNA profiles in family trees. For each victim profile, the system then compares and calculates whether it matches the DNA profiles of the surviving relatives. The software is based on Bayesian networks, making it flexible, fast and very efficient to perform the calculations necessary for the analysis.

Used in aviation disasters

The system was used by the NFI to identify the victims from the air disaster in Tripoli in 2010, and the victims involved in the crash of flight MH17. The system is also used to identify missing persons.

SMART Research B.V., the commercial spin-off company of SNN, has entered into a partnership with Australia and Vietnam.

Interpol started using the identification software last year.