Forensic Technology Center of Excellence


Accessing and Utilizing Metadata from NMDID

Accessing and Utilizing Metadata from NMDID


This webinar originally occurred on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020
Duration: 1 hour

In the second webinar, participants explored the types of data included in the New Mexico Decedent Image Database. The Data Dictionary contains all variables in the database and additional information about that data. This includes the definition, data source, cardinality, and answer list.

The definition can be used to ensure that the data field the researcher is collecting contains the information the researcher is studying. The data source includes three options: the medical examiners database, phone interviews with next of kin, or both. The benefits and negatives of each data source was discussed. The medical examiner data can come from the scene, medical record, and interviews with family and friends. The next of kin interviews may be from close or distant family members. Lastly, the possible answers for each field was reviewed. The source of the answer lists will also be discussed, as some answers come from the creators of the database, the Office of the Medical Investigator, and nationally and internationally used data standards. The participants learned how to use the data dictionary to format the variables used in their research. This ensured that the data is used properly and contains the needed information.

In addition, participants explored two pathways of processing data after downloading it from the website. Data is downloaded in multiple CSV files, one from each table of the relational database (for a total of eight files). Each CSV file contains the de-identified record number for the 15,243 decedents in the database. The main data table is decedents.csv and contains data on the sex, gender, age, and other demographic information. Other files include ancestry, chromosomal abnormalities, distinctions, environmental history, medical history, medications, and substance usage. Participants reviewed the types of data present in each file.

Participants also learned how to use the eight data files to perform simple and complex queries on the data. A simple query is one in which only one data table is used.  A complex query requires using a relational database software to link the de-identified record number between the eight data files. Multiple examples of simple and complex queries will be performed. Complex queries will use Microsoft Access as it is a commonly used relational database.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

1)     Participants will learn how to use the data dictionary to format the variables used in their research.

2)     Participants will explore two pathways of processing data after downloading it from the website, how the data files are connected, and how to use the relationship to connect tables.

3)     Participants will learn how to use Microsoft Access, a relational database, to query data from multiple data tables. In the end, participants will understand how the data is formatted, how to perform simple filters and complex queries from the downloaded data files.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice.


Dr. Shamsi Daneshvari Berry



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