FBI files finally go digital

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI has finally gone digital with its files, and the effort spanned 12 years. The digital system that the FBI has in place cost over $600 million and will see agents using a new computer system rather than paper files during investigations. The system the FBI has implemented is called Sentinel.

The WSJ reports that Sentinel has elements that are similar to web browsers on the market today with tabs in movable Windows. The forms the software uses are filled out in a question-and-answer format and are said to be similar to consumer tax software on the market today. The completion of Sentinel was announced this week and comes after the system was tested to work out bugs.

Sentinel has been implemented piecemeal in recent years with the final step coming recently as the FBI shut down the old system that relied heavily on paper documents. The FBI software allows agents to share files electronically, and the system can track changes made by others. The system also allows agents to set up RSS feeds to track updates made to files.

Another interesting feature that the new Sentinel system offers is the ability for agents to enter data such as phone numbers to search if the phone numbers related to any other active cases. The system is said to have a main page that looks similar to Microsoft Outlook featuring a calendar to remind the agent of deadlines on pending cases. Documents are signed electronically when the agent inserts a security badge into a card reader at the computer terminal.