Category Archives: crime analysis

CrimeView and TriTech – Concerned? Maybe you should be.

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

keep-calm-and-investigate-on-7In the release of a not so well-kept industry secret, Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) finally announced this week (February 29, 2016)  that it has sold The Omega Group assets to TriTech Software Systems, a leading provider of public safety software. The Omega Group is a large provider of crime mapping software, known for its popular CrimeView™ desktop software and the http://www.crimemapping.com™ website which allows agencies to present crime statistics to the public in a heat map format.

According to the press release, TriTech intends to grow the acquired business as part of its public safety portfolio. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

So, TriTech continues its acquisition strategy… having already acquired Visionair, Tiburon and Information Management Corp (IMC) over the past decade. Visionair and Tiburon were providers of Records Management Systems (RMS) and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems for law enforcement.

The previous acquisitions made a great deal of sense for TriTech, as well as the companies being acquired. Most importantly, those acquisitions had no negative affect on the most important group of all – the users and customer base. The acquisition of The Omega Group and CrimeView, however, not so much.

The Omega Group has long been close partners with ESRI®, by far and away the leading developer of GIS mapping technology anywhere. That relationship with ESRI had helped Omega grow into the market force it has become. Of equal importance to that success, however, was the positioning that Omega Group – and their suite of crime map products – were data agnostic and would work with a wide variety of RMS and CAD systems.

Under TriTech’s ownership, however, I don’t see how that ‘impartiality’ continues. TriTech’s previous acquisitions have quickly blended into part of an overall powerful suite of tools – perhaps second to none in the industry – that they market so successfully. Why would we not expect CrimeView et al to follow the same path?

If you’re a current TriTech customer, the acquisition probably has little or no affect on you. Perhaps there’s even an upside as they work to integrate the crime mapping offerings into their other solutions further.

If you’re NOT a TriTech customer, however… well, this is not so good for you. It’s not unreasonable to expect that the company will continue to support third party RMS and CAD implementations for some period of time, but I expect the crime map products to grow in functionality specifically in line with TriTech’s own product set.

Here are our concerns:

  1. As a user of Omega Group products do you have reason to be concerned that support and development for you will slowly phase out? I’d think so, as TriTech is in the business of selling RMS and CAD solutions.
  2. If you’re ESRI, can you continue your cozy relationship with a company and product set now owned by a large entity who, by definition, has no interest in growing the non-TriTech base?
  3. If you’re a competitor to TriTech, can you continue to work with someone who would much prefer to take away your install base than partner with you on the crime map side?

There are low-end, inexpensive competitors to CrimeView but frankly they don’t compare to the functionality and are designed for the very smallest of agencies. CrimeMap from Crime Tech Solutions, on the other hand, is also a partner with ESRI and has a vested interest in remaining agnostic as to the RMS or CAD systems in place. It’s how the company does business.

CrimeMap is a top-tier desktop solution that includes all of the functionality you’d expect, PLUS includes advanced crime analytics, integration with our powerful criminal intelligence database system, and an incredibly useful connectivity to our price/performance leading link analysis solution.

One has to admire TriTech for their continued growth and execution of a solid acquisition strategy. In this acquisition of Omega Group, however, they have put ESRI, end-users, and competitive vendors in an awkward spot.

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

 

Is the Most Dangerous Company in America?

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

ciaThis is a very interesting read about the current big data analytics darling, Palantir Technologies. The article from GS Early appears on the Personal Liberty website HERE.

The original article follows…

I was reading my newsfeeds and I came across a very interesting story about this highly secretive company that is apparently buying up as much Palo Alto, California real estate as it can get its hands on.

But that isn’t even the most interesting thing about them. What piques my interest is how this start-up that just added another $450 million to its funding — it now has about $20 billion in funding — got its money.

The company is called Palantir Technologies. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from JRR Tolkein’s trilogy of fantasy novels. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman the wizard uses the Palantir of Orthanc, an indestructible sphere of dark crystal, to see into the future and communicate across the world.

That sounds geeky and innocuous enough, no?

But Palantir the company’s biggest clients are the FBI, SEC and the CIA. It is a Big Data company that also has corporate clients, but much of the work — from what anyone can tell — comes from hush-hush projects for the U.S. intelligence community.

This crystal ball of a company sounds less like a quaint fantasy than a key element of the “thought police” in Philip K. Dick’s dark science fiction tale “The Minority Report.”

In “The Minority Report,” the police used computers to predict when and where a crime would occur and apprehend the perpetrator before he actually committed the crime.

The crazy thing is, we’re now living in a world where Big Data makes that possible.

First, let me explain what Big Data is. Basically, now that our lives are completely recorded in various media — traffic cameras, debit card transactions, loyalty cards, phone calls, television shows watched, internet, social media, SMS texts, etc. — computers are powerful enough now to sort through all this data from all these sources and come up with predictive patterns for individuals and groups.

This is a very hot area for retail stores. But it also has enormous implications in a variety of industries; and many of them are helpful.

It is certainly a tool that law enforcement and our intelligence services would find valuable to root out potential terrorists or groups that are planning some terrorist act. It is also useful to find people who are attempting to elude authorities. And being able to get ahead of the some of the more devious players on Wall Street and their illegal trading schemes would be nice.

But you can see where this could be turned on Americans, just as easily as the NSA turned its endeavors on to less than righteous paths.

Palantir is raising eyebrows in the epicenter of digital startups because most companies, once they reach a certain size, move out of Palo Alto and build a campus in some surrounding town.

Not Palantir. It now owns about 10-15 percent of all the available space in Palo Alto, more than 250,000 square feet. It is the fourth most valuable venture backed company in the world.

The irony in the article was, the concern wasn’t about its biggest client or what it’s doing for the CIA, it was the fact that it’s eating up all the available commercial space in Palo Alto and not leaving room for new startups.

My concern is a bit deeper. The CIA could have quietly gone to one of the major Big Data firms like Accenture or IBM and worked with them on whatever it is they needed. But instead they essentially built their own company, where there are much fewer people to throw up roadblocks to the work being done. I have no problem with government using Big Data to protect us; my concern is when intelligence and enforcement agencies have unfettered use of it.

But, there’s no turning back the clock. We are in the Big Data, cybersecurity age and plenty of these companies already exist. Usually their goal is help their clients sell more lavender soap in February or figure out what kind of salad greens a 37-year-old mother of two prefers to buy at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday evening.

On a fundamental level, it’s best to keep your digital footprint light. Make sure you have secure passwords that aren’t just 1234 or your pet’s name. Most browsers have an “incognito” mode that won’t track your browser history. But truth be told, if someone really wants your history, they can get it.

If you’re more serious about hiding your footprints, look into encrypted services like Tor (www.torproject.com) that will protect against traffic analysis (browser history, instant messaging, etc.). It’s free and very good.

Transactions in bitcoins is a way to keep your footprint light in the marketplace.

And if you’re looking to make money on the trend, there are any number of companies that are at the forefront of cybersecurity (Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Synamtec) and Big Data (Accenture, IBM, Teradata, Oracle).

–GS Early

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Technology and the fight against terrorism

Posted by Crime Tech Solutions

From CNN…

Terrorist-picture-scan-750x500http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/24/technology/targeting-terror-intelligence-isis/index.html?iid=ob_lockedrail_bottomlarge&iid=obnetwork

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Link Analysis and Crime – An examination.

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

Pic003The topic of fraud is widely discussed, and the focus of thousands upon thousands of articles. Television shows such as Crime, Inc and American Greed have become popular due, in part, to our fascination with the topic of fraud.

The organizations that are affected by fraud are also fascinated… but for entirely different reasons. Some estimates suggest that the US economy loses 11 trillion dollars each year due to one form of fraud or another. It’s little wonder, therefore, that the companies most frequently defrauded have been heavily investing in anti-fraud technologies at an increasing rate over the past decade or more.

The biggest problem with fraud, of course, is that it is always evolving in a very Darwinian fashion. Like a living, breathing entity, fraud schemes change over time in order to survive. As the targets of fraud schemes put new policies, procedures and/or systems to deter the activities, the schemes modify and find new ways to survive.

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So, since the nature of criminal activity is such that they constantly change, how do investigators find a fool proof methodology to ensure they are 100% safe from them? The answer, of course, is that they can’t. They never will; at least not until we live in a world such as the one depicted in the 2002 film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. In that movie, criminals are arrested prior to committing a crime based upon the predictions of psychics called ‘Precogs’. Corporations and individual targets of fraud can only wish.

Nope, there are no Precogs running around locking up would-be practitioners of fraud that would protect banks, insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare programs, victims of Ponzi schemes, victims of identity theft, and countless others. Instead, organizations rely upon skilled knowledge workers using purpose-built crime and fraud analytics technology that can detect anomalies in patterns, suspicious transactions, hotspot mapping, networks of fraudsters, and other sophisticated data analytics tools.

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Crime and fraud analytics

Any discussion of analytics and investigation software must touch upon the topic of ‘big data’. No longer just a buzz word, big data literally fuels the insights gathered by organizations in every area of business. Naturally, then, organizations who have been traditionally targeted by fraudsters have increasingly invested in crime technology such as investigation software and analytics in order to exploit the phenomenon.

gotbigdata.pngOf course, big data in and by itself does nothing. It just sits there. Nobody has ever yelled “Help! We’ve been defrauded! Call the big data!” Big data is only useful when it can be transformed into ‘smart data’. In other words, understanding the big picture of costly fraudulent activities is not akin to understanding the specifics of ‘who’ is defrauding you, and ‘how’ they are doing it.

Those questions can best be answered through the powerful data mining and link analysis software tools offered by Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions in partnership with Sterling, VA based Visallo. Effective link analysis complements big data analytics platforms, helping to expose previously undetected fraud, and the entities (people or organizations) committing it.

Link Analysis – Transforming big data into smart data

By definition, link analysis is a data analysis technique that examines relationships among people, places, and things. As a visual tool, link analysis provides users a powerful method to quickly understand and ‘see’ what is happening. Because of this, it is widely used by financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies to uncover criminal networks, improve fraud investigations, detect insider fraud, and expose money laundering schemes. Similarly, government agencies use link analysis to investigate fraud, enhance screening processes, uncover terrorist networks and investigate criminal activities.

At Crime Tech Solutions, we liken the question of how to detect and deter fraud to ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer, of course, is one bite at a time. If big data is the elephant, comprehensive link analysis software is part of the one ‘bite’ at a time. Or should we say ‘byte’.

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of investigation software and analytics for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, an industry-leading investigation case management solution, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

What is Crime Analysis?

Posted by Tyler Wood Crime Tech Solutions, your source for investigation software.

The information provided on this page comes primarily from Boba, R. (2008: Pages 3 through 6) Crime Analysis with Crime Mapping. For a full discussion of the crime analysis discipline, refer to the book which can be obtained through www.sagepub.com.

Over the past 20 years, many scholars have developed definitions of crime analysis. Although definitions of crime analysis differ in specifics, they share several common components: all agree that crime analysis supports the mission of the police agency, utilizes systematic methods and information, and provides information to a range of audiences. Thus, the following definition of crime analysis is used as the foundation of this initiative:

Crime analysis is the systematic study of crime and disorder problems as well as other police–related issues—including sociodemographic, spatial, and temporal factors—to assist the police in criminal apprehension, crime and disorder reduction, crime prevention, and evaluation.

Clarification of each aspect of this definition helps to demonstrate the various elements of crime analysis. Generally, to study means to inquire into, investigate, examine closely, and/or scrutinize information. Crime analysis, then, is the focused and systematic examination of crime and disorder problems as well as other police-related issues. Crime analysis is not haphazard or anecdotal; rather, it involves the application of social science data collection procedures, analytical methods, and statistical techniques.

More specifically, crime analysis employs both qualitative and quantitative data and methods. Crime analysts use qualitative data and methods when they examine non-numerical data for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships. The qualitative methods specific to crime analysis include field research (such as observing characteristics of locations) and content analysis (such as examining police report narratives). Crime analysts use quantitative data and methods when they conduct statistical analysis of numerical or categorical data. Although much of the work in crime analysis is quantitative, crime analysts use simple statistical methods, such as frequencies, percentages, means, and rates. Typical crime analysis tools include link analysis and crime mapping software.

The central focus of crime analysis is the study of crime (e.g., rape, robbery, and burglary); disorder problems (e.g., noise complaints, burglar alarms, and suspicious activity); and information related to the nature of incidents, offenders, and victims or targets of crime (targets refer to inanimate objects, such as buildings or property). Crime analysts also study other police-related operational issues, such as staffing needs and areas of police service. Even though this discipline is called crime analysis, it actually includes much more than just the examination of crime incidents.

Although many different characteristics of crime and disorder are relevant in crime analysis, the three most important kinds of information that crime analysts use are sociodemographic, spatial, and temporal. Sociodemographic information consists of the personal characteristics of individuals and groups, such as sex, race, income, age, and education. On an individual level, crime analysts use sociodemographic information to search for and identify crime suspects. On a broader level, they use such information to determine the characteristics of groups and how they relate to crime. For example, analysts may use sociodemographic information to answer the question, “Is there a white, male suspect, 30 to 35 years of age, with brown hair and brown eyes, to link to a particular robbery?” or “Can demographic characteristics explain why the people in one group are victimized more often than people in another group in a particular area?”

The spatial nature of crime and other police-related issues is central to understanding the nature of a problem. In recent years, improvements in computer technology and the availability of electronic data have facilitated a larger role for spatial analysis in crime analysis. Visual displays of crime locations (maps) and their relationship to other events and geographic features are essential to understanding the nature of crime and disorder. Recent developments in criminological theory have encouraged crime analysts to focus on geographic patterns of crime, by examining situations in which victims and offenders come together in time and space.

Finally, the temporal nature of crime, disorder, and other police-related issues is a major component of crime analysis. Crime analysts conduct several levels of temporal analysis, including (a) examination of long-term patterns in crime trends over several years, the seasonal nature of crime, and patterns by month; (b) examination of mid-length patterns, such as patterns by day of week and time of day; and (c) examination of short-term patterns, such as patterns by day of the week, time of day, or time between incidents within a particular crime series.

The final part of the crime analysis definition—”to assist the police in criminal apprehension, crime and disorder reduction, crime prevention, and evaluation” generally summarizes the purpose and goals of crime analysis. The primary purpose of crime analysis is to support (i.e., “assist”) the operations of a police department. Without police, crime analysis would not exist as it is defined here.

The first goal of crime analysis is to assist in criminal apprehension, given that this is a fundamental goal of the police. For instance, a detective may be investigating a robbery incident in which the perpetrator used a particular modus operandi (i.e., method of the crime). A crime analyst might assist the detective by searching a database of previous robberies for similar cases.

Another fundamental police goal is to prevent crime through methods other than apprehension. Thus, the second goal of crime analysis is to help identify and analyze crime and disorder problems as well as to develop crime prevention responses for those problems. For example, members of a police department may wish to conduct a residential burglary prevention campaign and would like to target their resources in areas with the largest residential burglary problem. A crime analyst can assist by conducting an analysis of residential burglary to examine how, when, and where the burglaries occurred along with which items were stolen. The analyst can then use this information to develop crime prevention suggestions, (such as closing and locking garage doors) for specific areas.

Many of the problems that police deal with or are asked to solve are not criminal in nature; rather, they are related to quality of life and disorder. Some examples include false burglar alarms, loud noise complaints, traffic control, and neighbor disputes. The third goal of crime analysis stems from the police objective to reduce crime and disorder. Crime analysts can assist police with these efforts by researching and analyzing problems such as suspicious activity, noise complaints, code violations, and trespass warnings. This research can provide officers with information they can use to address these issues before they become more serious criminal problems.

The final goal of crime analysis is to help with the evaluation of police efforts by determining the level of success of programs and initiatives implemented to control and prevent crime and disorder and measuring how effectively police organizations are run. In recent years, local police agencies have become increasingly interested in determining the effectiveness of their crime control and prevention programs and initiatives. For example, an evaluation might be conducted to determine the effectiveness of a two-month burglary surveillance or of a crime prevention program that has sought to implement crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles within several apartment communities. Crime analysts also assist police departments in evaluating internal organizational procedures, such as resource allocation (i.e., how officers are assigned to patrol areas), realignment of geographic boundaries, the forecasting of staffing needs, and the development of performance measures. Police agencies keep such procedures under constant scrutiny in order to ensure that the agencies are running effectively.

In summary, the primary objective of crime analysis is to assist the police in reducing and preventing crime and disorder. Present cutting edge policing strategies, such as hotspots policing, problem-oriented policing, disorder policing, intelligence-led policing, and CompStat management strategies, are centered on directing crime prevention and crime reduction responses based on crime analysis results. Although crime analysis is recognized today as important by both the policing and the academic communities, it is a young discipline and is still being developed. Consequently, it is necessary to provide new and experienced crime analysts with training and assistance that improves their skills and provides them examples of best practices from around the country and the world. http://crimetechsolutions.com

 

Policing in my hometown (Winnipeg) gets smart

Posted by Douglas Wood, Crime Tech Solutions

As a native Winnipeg boy, this article in the Winnipeg Sun caught my attention…

1297227913993_ORIGINALThe government of Manitoba, Canada won’t be making good on its 2011 election pledge to put an extra 50 cops on the streets to combat crime and keep Winnipeg neighborhoods safe.

But it’s not because the province is unwilling.  It’s because the city of Winnipeg doesn’t want more cops.

That may seem odd for a city with the highest violent crime rate in the country. But as policing resources shift away from boots on the ground to more crime-analysis based law enforcement, it’s not more sworn officers the Winnipeg Police Service wants, it’s more resources for so-called smart policing strategies.

“The interest of Winnipeg Police Service is not in officers so much as in crime analysis and smart policing and they have a different approach,” Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh told a legislative committee on Monday. “They do not have an interest in just adding more.” The New Democratic Party promised voters during the last provincial election that it would fund 50 additional officers if re-elected. But four years later, the province has only funded 23 more officers. And there won’t be any new funding for more officers, said Mackintosh.

“The commitment was 50 more officers and we’re now at the equivalent of 23,” said Mackintosh. “The city has requested that the election commitment not be implemented as enunciated during the campaign.” It’s a major shift from years past when provincial parties regularly pledged to put more cops on the street by directly funding the Winnipeg Police Service. The former government was the first to make the promise in 1995 when it promised 40 more police officers for Winnipeg.

The province now directly pays for the salaries and benefits of 172 Winnipeg officers, according to a 2014 report.

And while that funding is expected to continue, the city doesn’t want more money for cops. They want it to help fund other aspects of policing, including more preventative measures, said Mackintosh.

“This is a different approach that is gaining momentum not just here in Winnipeg but in other jurisdictions across the continent,” said Mackintosh. “It’s really about hot spot policing now, it’s about data analysis, looking at the types of offences where they occur, the time of day.” Winnipeg police board chairman Coun. Scott Gillingham confirmed the city isn’t looking for more funding to expand the police complement further. He says police are looking to hire more crime analysts, which can be civilians, not more cops.

“The opportunity and the need would be to focus on preventative measures through things like the smart policing initiative (and) intelligence-led policing,” said Gillingham.

What police also need, though, is more help with the additional workload they’ve taken on as they deal increasingly with mental health patients, Child and Family Services cases and soaring domestic abuse calls.

Police may be moving towards a more data-based approach to law enforcement, but they’ve also become a service of last resort for a growing number of tough social service cases, including tracking down chronic runaway wards of the state on a regular basis.

Which means they’re going to need a lot more support from provincial agencies to pick up some of that slack.

Winnipeg police may not need more boots on the ground. After all, Winnipeg does have the most cops per capita of any Canadian city, and has for some time.

But the province is going to have to figure out how to better manage the social service cases that are landing increasingly at the doorstep of police.

Professor urges increased use of technology in fighting crime

risk_terrain_modeling_resizedPosted by Crime Tech Solutions

This article originally appeared HERE in Jamaica Observer. It’s an interesting read…

A University of the West Indies (UWI) professor is calling for the increased use of technology by developing countries, including Jamaica, to assist in the fight against crime.

Professor Evan Duggan, who is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said there have been “amazing advancements” in information and communications technologies (ICT), over the past six decades, which offer great potential for improving security strategies.

The academic, who was addressing a recent National Security Policy Seminar at UWI’s Regional Headquarters, located on the Mona campus, pointed to Kenya as a developing country that has employed the use of inexpensive technology in its crime fighting initiatives.

“Potential applications and innovations have been implemented through the use of powerful but not very expensive technologies that have allowed law enforcers to make enormous leaps in criminal intelligence, crime analysis, emergency response and policing,” he said.

He pointed to the use of a variety of mobile apps for crime prevention and reporting, web facilities, and citizen portals for the reporting of criminal activity.

Professor Duggan said that in order for Jamaica to realise the full benefit of technology in crime fighting, national security stakeholders need to engage local application developers.

“I would enjoin our stakeholders to engage the extremely creative Jamaican application developers, who now produce high quality apps for a variety of mobile and other platforms. I recommend interventions to assist in helping these groups to cohere into a unified force that is more than capable of supplying the applications we need,” he urged.

The UWI Professor pointed to the Mona Geoinformatic Institute as one entity that has been assisting in fighting crime, through analyses of crime data as well as three dimensional (3D) reconstruction of crime scenes; and mapping jurisdictional boundaries for police posts and divisions, as well as the movement of major gangs across the country.

In the meantime, Professor Duggan called for “purposeful activism” in the fight against crime and lawlessness which, he said, are “serious deterrents to economic development and national growth prospects” and could derail the national vision of developed country status by 2030.

“In the current global landscape where security challenges are proliferating across borders and have taken on multifaceted physiognomies, all hands on deck are vital,” he stressed.

“We need to …consolidate pockets of research excellence in this area …to provide the kinds of insight that will lead to more fruitful and productive collaborative engagements that are required to help us better understand the security challenges and threats from crime in order to better inform our national security architecture and direction,” he added.