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A screenshot of the dashboard view of the new Namus 2.0.

The NamUs online database, upon its debut in 2007, was a kind of quiet revolution. The concept that a publicly-accessible repository of unidentified and missing persons, and unclaimed remains, could benefit from many thousands of eyes combing its voluminous data was rather new a decade ago.

The website, however, got old—and occasionally slow.

Today the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System has launched its “2.0”—the second version of the database.

The system is sleeker, faster—and comes with new options that may make that crucial breakthrough in untold cases of the future, according to officials.

The speed is especially crucial to law enforcement and NamUs staff who upload the bulk of the data to the site. What was once a time-consuming process that had its hiccups now will be smoother—and will increase productivity for years to come, said J. Todd Matthews, case management and communications director for NamUs.

“It’s very different than what is was,” said Matthews. “We had to upgrade.”

The new system has moved to the Office of Justice Programs’ SecureCloud, meaning it is more secure than ever before, said Matthews.

Many of the search criteria are the same, based on identifying characteristics, circumstances, geography and a litany of other details about either missing or unidentified persons cases.

But the new system also incorporates a mapping function down to specific street addresses for professional users. It also includes enhanced visuals for parks, public lands and incorporating satellite imagery.

Additional criteria—including keywords, multiple ethnic categories and geographic locations—allow further revised searches and case linkages, officials said.

Intuitive automatic potential matching, with a default proximity of 100-mile radius, also promises to make some breakthroughs for diligent investigators wearing badges, sitting in crime labs, or both.

Quicker response speed will also come with the updated tool, for searching and viewing potential matches, they added. 

NamUs has begun to catch on as a requirement in some states—with laws mandating the upload of information to the database.

The wider use of the database has led to identifications and solved cases, from the border of Mexico up to near the line with Canada. The system has become especially effective since it partnered up with the FBI to improve its fingerprint matching criteria—leading to solved cases in virtually every state over the last year-plus. The stats listed on the NamUs site claim 15,000 resolved missing persons cases with 1,980 NamUs-aided resolutions, and 3,310 resolved unidentified persons cases with 1,406 system-aided resolutions of those remains.

Currently listed on the new database: 14,330 missing persons—and 11,999 unidentified bodies spanning back decades, waiting for names.

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