Law enforcement professionals play a selfless role in keeping us safe. While they feel a sense of pride in their daily work, they also feel an urgency to do more, be more transparent and continually improve.

Having access to multiple, accurate sources of data is essential for solving crimes. But the volume and variety of data generated by traditional systems of record and newer sources like social media, communications data, cell towers and license plate readers can overwhelm investigators. Due to the difficulty of pulling data from so many sources, law enforcement agencies often obtain information that is late, inaccurate or incomplete.

What if they received timely, accurate information instead? Imagine how much faster they could address serious crimes. Assign the best-suited person to respond to an incident. And save precious time in preparing cases for court.

Data and analytics, applied through evidence-based policing, can help solve these problems.

But most law enforcement professionals did not sign up to be data scientists. That’s why it’s so important to have technology solutions that help them quickly and easily access and analyze the data they need – when they need it.

Technology matters

When there’s more data than an investigator can easily process, the tasks of collecting, analyzing and disseminating information hinder crime-solving efforts. A flexible data analytics platform that automatically generates relationship maps is essential for ensuring that all information relevant to a crime is available for investigations – quickly, easily and thoroughly.

With a data analytics platform, law enforcement agencies can position themselves to uncover the truth and solve more crimes faster. They’ll find it easier to connect the dots and link criminals who are tied to multiple cases. They can also become more transparent and share more information with their communities – while operating effectively across all types of missions.

When choosing a data analytics platform, law enforcement professionals should look for five characteristics to help them expedite and improve investigative processes. The data analytics platform should:

  • Be flexible and easy to configure.
  • Provide access to multiple data sources.
  • Automatically generate interactive network diagrams.
  • Make it easy to create and share dashboards and reports.
  • Automatically generate and manage cases.

Choose a platform that’s flexible and easy to configure

Law enforcement agencies follow diverse processes and adhere to policies and regulations specific to their regions. For technology to assist them, it needs to be flexible and easy to configure to their agency’s unique operational requirements and processes. Law enforcement agencies should select a data analytics platform that can access, integrate and analyze any type of data generated from any type of system and stored in any location.

Gain access to multiple data sources

To uncover insights about incidents, subjects and cases, a data analytics platform must provide easy access from a single point of entry to an investigator’s various data sources.

Law enforcement agencies frequently cite this ability to log in from one system and run federated searches – across multiple internal and external data sources – as one of their top requirements. Yet it’s not easily accomplished with many technology platforms.

Many agencies lack this capability, even though it’s essential to helping them solve crimes faster.

Automatically generate interactive network diagrams

To solve crimes, investigators rely on bringing data together in ways that help them “connect the dots.” By threading together multiple pieces of data from different sources, they strive to:

  • Find all available information about a person, place, object or event (often referred to as “entities”).
  • Uncover all obvious and non-obvious relationships between the different entities.

Investigators often use standard search tools to uncover information about the subjects of their investigations. This is a painstaking process when accessing multiple law enforcement systems. It requires manually analyzing each returned record and then performing follow-up searches to ensure all information about each entity within each system has been found.

With a data analytics platform that performs interactive entity resolution, all information about each person, place, object and event is brought together from all systems and reconciled. This enables automated network analysis, which generates relationship maps between entities.

When investigators make an inquiry, they can view complex relationships immediately. Network analysis highlights potential areas of interest, showing entity closeness, betweenness and influence. This makes it easier to see complex networks of relationships between people, places, objects and events – over time and geography, and across multiple dimensions.

Automated entity resolution and the resulting generation of networks expedite information generation, save a tremendous amount of work, and assemble all information across systems. So, no key pieces of information are omitted.

Performing entity resolution at the start of an investigation ensures a coordinated use of data throughout investigative processes. The results can be fed back to source systems to enhance the data available for other applications.


Iowa Department of Corrections 

With interactive data exploration and visualization, the Iowa DOC can manage, interpret and report data – giving it an edge as it works to stabilize its populations and make optimal public safety decisions.

Our goal is to create safer communities and reduce victimization, and data puts us on the right path. We have tools in place for case managers to take a proactive approach and intervene in a manner tailored to an individual’s needs. These interventions benefit public safety as well as help the individual stay stable and successful in the community.

– Dr. Beth Skinner, Director, Iowa Department of Corrections


Easily create and share reports and dashboards

Agencies need easy ways to create and share dashboards and reports to keep people informed, improve internal and external communication, and increase community transparency. Unfortunately, some agencies lack sufficient staff and still rely on manual processes and tools like spreadsheets to accomplish these goals.

Reporting is a critical way to share existing information – but it also informs and validates other vital decisions that need to be made. Analytics tools can make the job easier.

Automatically generate and manage cases

Bringing cases to successful prosecution is a burdensome part of the investigative process. Investigators not only have to build the case – they also need to have all supporting data and documentation prepared for prosecution. If they rely on manual searches, tedious workflows and complex case management tasks, they lose precious time preparing cases for court.

With automated access to the right data and analytics tools, investigators have accurate, timely information and case documentation. In turn, they can present a solid case with complete, detailed information that clearly shows all the linked associations to the suspect and all supporting evidence. Automated case generation and management capabilities – along with the ability to customize information when needed – support successful case prosecutions.

Learn more about our solution for law enforcement agencies
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About Author

Ellen Joyner-Roberson, CFE

Global Marketing Advisor

Ellen Joyner-Roberson, CFE, is Global Marketing Advisor at SAS where she defines industry strategy and messaging for the global fraud and security markets in banking, insurance, health care and government. With more than thirty years of experience in information technology, she helps clients capitalize on the power of analytics to combat fraud and keep the public safe. This includes bringing greater awareness of how to apply machine learning and AI to detect evolving fraud tactics, while realizing ROI in technology investments. In addition, she consults with clients to reduce fraud losses and mitigate risk across their enterprise. Joyner-Roberson graduated from Sweet Brier College with a degree in Math and Computer Science. Most recently, Ellen has brought to market our Intelligence and Law Enforcement solution called SAS® Intelligence and Investigation Management and a cross industry solution focused on procurement integrity.

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