Omer Frenkel , Intelligence Solutions Expert
November 23, 2022

What Is Driving The Shift To Decision Intelligence Platforms For Criminal Investigations? 

Decision Intelligence Accelerates Investigations to Combat Crime and Terror

A shocking 54.5% of violent crimes committed in the U.S. annually remain open and unsolved, according to FBI statistics1.  This phenomenon is not limited to the U.S., but is common across law enforcement agencies throughout the world. One of the main reasons for the high volume of unresolved criminal investigations is that while the clues and evidence might be out there, law enforcement authorities consistently run into roadblocks when it comes to making use of the vast volumes of data available to them. The problems begin at the stage of gathering data from diverse sources into one place and continue in the challenge of analyzing and making actionable decisions based on this data.  

Complex criminal and terror investigations often require gathering and analyzing data coming from multiple sources and in multiple formats.  For example, relevant data may include security camera footage, financial transactions, posts on the Dark Web, police records across municipal, regional, and international borders, and much more.  The conventional tools available to law enforcement are simply inadequate in today’s fast-changing reality, with bad actors taking advantage of the latest technologies to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. Without access to advanced data solutions capable of fusing and analyzing large and diverse data sets, law enforcement organizations find themselves at a disadvantage.    

Top 3 Data Challenges in Crime and Terror Investigations 

The variety, volume and velocity of data exacerbate existing investigative difficulties for law enforcement and create new challenges. Data is often siloed in different systems, and any insights reached are similarly siloed across teams. Law enforcement faces major roadblocks due to the difficulty of accessing and analyzing all of the data needed for investigations. These difficulties are reflected in the findings of the latest survey conducted by Cognyte, of over 200 chief investigators across 14 countries. The main challenges cited by investigators are the following:  

  1. Obtaining a single-pane-of-glass view of the investigation Fusing all data available into a single-pane-of-glass view is critical in order to effectively explore and analyze data. The technology used to integrate data from multiple sources into one unified pool of data is known as data fusion. It’s clear that government agencies are aware of the urgent need for data fusion solutions. Two of the top data challenges cited by investigators in Cognyte’s survey are the exponentially growing data volume (63%), and the increase of data sources with unstructured text (44%). This indicates that many law enforcement agencies are still struggling with integrating all relevant data into a single investigation workspace and creating holistic profiles from the disconnected data. 
  2. Exploring, visualizing and analyzing volumes of data in order to extract actionable insights According to Cognyte’s survey, the three most useful analytical capabilities that law enforcement agencies and national security organizations are currently utilizing as part of their investigation workflow are: identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies (56%), assessing risk levels for suspects and events (47%) and running queries on data from multiple sources (46%). It’s no surprise that identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies is such a high priority. An analytical platform with the necessary capabilities can quickly and automatically process and analyze huge volumes of data, in order to identify patterns of suspicious activity. For example, by identifying patterns of suspicious financial transactions, law enforcement agencies can surface money laundering, terror financing or other illicit activities. Doing so manually would be almost impossible. Law enforcement organizations have finite resources for investigations and enforcement, and the right analytical tools can allow them to make informed and intelligent decisions regarding where to best allocate resources. For example, suspects and organizations with higher threat scores could be allotted more resources than those with lower threat scores. The ability to run queries on data from multiple sources is also essential for investigators, as it allows them to extract critical information across multiple data sources.   
  3. Leveraging new data sources for investigation purposes In today’s dynamic threat landscape, law enforcement agencies need to constantly add and modify their data sources in accordance with the evolution of their investigations and according to suspects’ methods of operation. Criminals and terrorists are quick to adopt new technologies, platforms, and methods in order to evade detection by law enforcement. For example, phone records were once an important intelligence source, but in recent times, criminals are increasingly communicating via encrypted apps and dark web forums, as these are seen as more secure and anonymous platforms.  

Decision Intelligence platforms as a solution to data fusion and analytics challenges 

The difficulties facing investigators in tackling complex data sources are a real and pressing issue — and this is where decision intelligence comes into play. Decision intelligence platforms utilize cutting-edge machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to fuse data from diverse sources, analyze data, and make data-based predictions.  

Decision intelligence is a relatively new concept in the industry, and it relates to the use of analytics and AI not only in order to provide law enforcement personnel with insights and trends, but also to enable them to make better decisions by suggesting the best course of action. The aim of decision intelligence is to use analytics, machine learning and AI technology to automate tasks that are data-intensive and require lots of manual effort. In parallel, law enforcement personnel are freed to spend their time on decisions that humans are better suited for, such as tasks where context, nuance, and ambiguity play a role.   

Leveraging a decision intelligence platform allows investigation teams to accelerate decision-making and boost investigations through multisource data fusion and analytics by: 

Unifying investigations into a single workspace  

A good decision intelligence platform saves time and resources by fusing siloed data into unified entities and suspect profiles, and displaying information in a single pane-of-glass view. This type of platform is ideal for multi-source crime and terror investigations, as it allows for the independent addition of data sources, using standard APIs enclosed with multi-layered access control for sensitive intelligence data. 

Speeding up case resolution rates and pinpointing illicit activities and suspects 

A state-of-the-art decision intelligence platform can perform automatic threat scoring for suspicious individuals and groups, generate new investigation leads and map networks, while allowing collaboration across teams in a real-time investigative workspace. 

Extracting previously unattainable insights from intelligence data 

An advanced platform leverages machine learning and analytics to detect hidden relations between groups, individuals and items under investigation.  The user can adapt these analytical models according to specific investigation needs.  Cutting-edge systems allow for entity and metadata extraction from various data formats, including audio, images and video, improving investigators’ chance to efficiently utilize all data available to them.   

Footnote 1: Source – FBI UCR statistics, 2019

To learn more about how Cognyte’s NEXYTE decision intelligence platform can transform your investigations, check out our criminal and terror investigation use case overview. 

Let's Empower Decision Intelligence

Omer Frenkel , Intelligence Solutions Expert

Omer Frankel is an Intelligence Solutions Expert at Cognyte. Omer brings extensive experience and know-how in the intelligence field, with a decorated tenure of over 18 years as an intelligence analyst, department head, and product manager in the Israeli research national unit. Omer holds a B.A. in International Relations & Middle Eastern Studies and an M.A, in Political Marketing.
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