In December we received a subsidy from the HSD Development Fund to work with organisation experts from In-pact and human factors experts from the Netherlands Organisation on Applied Research (TNO) on the Digital Evidence Dashboard (DED) project in collaboration with users from Special Law Enforment Agencies. This project is focused on the development and testing of new working processes including an innovative Digital Evidence Dashboard to support non-technical investigators and their managers with the investigation of digital evidence and the collaboration with digital forensics experts.
As explained in our previous blog on Breaking the backlog of digital forensic evidencesmartphones, tablets and computers routinely contain evidence related to common crimes, from theft to fraud to homicide. The average leadtime for processing digital evidence varies from weeks to months depending on the availability of skilled forensic resources. Digital forensics laboratories are overwhelmed, while investigators sometimes must wait months for critical digital evidence to be processed. This seriously delays the prosecution process.
FIOD detectives investigate financial crimes such as tax evasion, money laundering and insider trading. During a search and seizure, possibly at multiple locations, computers and digital media are copied and are taken to digital forensics experts for further investigation. The experts process this evidence with special tools and search for incriminating evidence matching against a matrix of criminal offenses and are guided in their search by clues presented by the detectives.
Innovative solutions are required to cope with the increasing amount of digital evidence in order to speed up the prosecution process. This project aims at two innovations for the investigation domain: a new way of working and a new support model called the Digital Evidence Dashboard (DED). The innovation focuses on better process support and collaboration. Together with end users (detectives and experts) new processes will be developed including a specification of the functionalities that are required in the DED.
The current Tracks Inspector platform will be used as a solid base for the DED. The DED supports users with the creation of scenarios and hypotheses about evidence units in order to enable a step-by-step validation. The collaboration between users and hand-over of evidence, will benefit from a better recording of intermediary results.
The DED will provide technology assistance on critical analysis and scenario-based thinking (What type of visualisation is appropriate for large datasets?), with decision support (When to escalate to a digital forensics expert?) and with the modelling and formal description of user, crime and evidence profiles (How can knowledge be modelled?). TNO has significant experience here from previous projects in other domains (Policing, Firefighting and Military) and will use this experience in the design of the platform.
Another improvement can be found in the redesign of working processes and collaboration. In-pact has the experience that is required to manage this process. All stakeholders (management, digital forensics experts and detectives) must be involved in order speed up and also improve working processes. A transformation in both working culture and processes is required as well as a closer collaboration between experts and detectives. The new Digital Evidence Dashboard in Tracks Inspector provides a platform to support the necessary collaboration.
Inspectors and detectives of the Inspectorate SZW investigate human trafficking, organized benefit fraud, subsidy fraud etc. The methods used by digital forensics experts from the Inspectorate SZW are comparable to methods used by FIOD detectives but their investigation scenarios have more variation. Experts from the Inspectorate SZW are frequently requested to support other small inspectorates such as the Dutch Healthcare Authority and the Netherlands Gaming Authority. The use of digital expertise is aimed more at inspection and enforcement with less emphasis on investigations.