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The study of social networks is providing dramatic insights into the nature of our society and how we are connected to one another. So it’s no surprise that law enforcement agencies want to get in on the act.
Criminal networks are just as social as friendship or business networks. So the same techniques that can tease apart the links between our friends and colleagues should also work for thieves, drug dealers, and organized crime in general.
But how would your ordinary law enforcement officer go about collecting and analyzing data in this way? Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Emilio Ferrara at Indiana University in Bloomington and a few pals.
These guys have created a bespoke software platform that can bring together information from mobile phone records, from police databases and from the knowledge and expertise of agents themselves to recreate detailed networks behind criminal organizations.
The new platform, called LogAnalysis, gives a unique insight into the make up a criminal organization. “It allows forensic investigators to deeply understand hierarchies within criminal organizations, discovering members who play central role and provide connection among sub-groups,” they say.
One of the first problems any law enforcement agent is likely to come up against when studying social networks is the sheer volume of data that this process generates. This is where LogAnalysis comes into its own.
It automatically imports raw phone call records, removes ambiguities and redundancies in the data and then converts it to a format that can be easily displayed in the kind of visual graphic format that allows more detailed analysis. It also allows agents to add other data such as mug shots from police records and other information that the officer might have to hand.