In October 2021, a 4-year-old girl went missing from a campground in Carnarvon, Australia. For 18 days, Western Australia Police interviewed witnesses, reviewed camera footage within many miles of the campsite, and assembled a significant amount of physical evidence through a massive public response, but couldn’t identify a suspect or locate the missing girl. It was quoted by Australian police as like looking for a needle in a haystack, with hopes of finding her alive slipping away.
But when Western Australia Police brought cell tower data into the investigation to help narrow search locations, the case reached a tipping point where investigators were able to piece together other evidence to identify and find a suspect. Soon after analyzing the cell tower data, police raided a home near the campground and found the girl unharmed.
Data is an important part of police work and having the right tools available to make sense of large amounts of data is crucial to cracking tough cases. In today’s demanding world of police work, there is a growing expectation that technology can and should help protect citizens from crime with proactive policing enabled by timely and accurate information.
Cell tower data has been used by law enforcement for years to correlate people with places and events to help solve crimes. The number of requests for cell tower data is on the rise, with T-Mobile fielding more than 70,000 requests for historical cell site location data in 2018, up by more than 9 percent from the previous year. The ability for law enforcement to access cell tower data is here to stay and can be crucial in solving cases.
Using Location Data to Solve Crimes
To help solve crimes quickly, law enforcement agencies need modern tools that correlate cell tower and other third-party data with specific people.
The best solution is to overlay investigative data from multiple sources onto a map and use the map as an interactive tool to selectively include and exclude data of interest. To help piece together the events leading up to and after a crime, investigators can easily restrict analysis to a specific geographic area by filtering out information not related to the area in question. Investigative focus can be shifted on demand with detail down to specific buildings or locations. By visualizing data on a map, investigators can more quickly connect data points to correlate people, places, and events.
But until recently, this hasn’t been easy to do. While many law enforcement agencies already have significant investments in business intelligence (BI) software such as IBM Cognos Analytics and geographic information systems (GIS) software such as Esri ArcGIS, what’s been missing is a way to combine BI and GIS analytical strengths without a significant amount of custom programming, which requires resources, skills, and funding not readily available to most police departments.
Police departments not only need a way to combine BI data with location data, but the solution must also be easy to use and provide the ability to disseminate information quickly and easily across the department and to other organizations as needed.
Bridging the Gap Between BI and Location Data
If your law enforcement agency has IBM Cognos Analytics, bridging the gap between investigative data and location data is simplified by using Attain Insight Map Intelligence, a plug and play extension to IBM Cognos Analytics that helps law enforcement agencies synthesize large amounts of data from multiple sources to help solve crimes.
Map Intelligence enables investigative analysts with no technical background to visualize data on a map to support specific investigations, formulate strategic approaches to fighting crime, or quickly find a needle in a haystack.
Attain Insight Map Intelligence is the only solution available today that enables law enforcement agencies to leverage existing investments in IBM Cognos Analytics and Esri ArcGIS and enables the transition to intelligence-led policing.
Map Intelligence at Work in Australia
Attain Insight Map Intelligence has already been at work for the South Australian Police force as well as Australia’s Northern Territory Police, Fire, and Emergency Services. The Northern Territory Police agency’s technology director, John Weippert, says that the ability to overlay information from a variety of sources onto maps of the territory has been invaluable in better understanding local and regional crime trends and analyzing traffic incidents.
He says, “Map Intelligence enables our police officers to click on an icon in the BI dashboard, whether on their desktop or wireless device in the field, and straight away they have a geospatial view of their data. That simplicity is what makes all the difference.”
Even better, investigators can also easily relay this visual information to officers in the field for immediate action. In addition, the agency’s Police Tasking Coordination Group uses Map Intelligence in daily team meetings and in weekly reporting to regional commanders to help shape strategic and operational responses.
Map Intelligence is a powerful platform for supporting police investigations, a capability that hasn’t been available before now to anyone but the most technically accomplished. By combining investigative data with map data using Attain Insight Map Intelligence, law enforcement organizations now have a powerful tool to manage crime and its impact on society.
To learn more about how Attain Insight Map Intelligence can help your law enforcement agency solve crimes faster, contact us for an interactive demonstration.