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Intelligence Network and Secure Platform for Evidence Correlation and Transfer (INSPECTr)

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High-tech tools leveraged to fight crime

A multi-jurisdictional intelligence platform organises data and improves access for law enforcement agencies to address the growing threat of cybercrime.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy
Security icon Security

Organised crime uses technology to extend its reach in many nefarious ways. The use of the internet and other technological tools allows criminals to act beyond national borders. Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) need new tools to combat this trend, and the EU-funded INSPECTr project created an intelligence platform that addresses many of the challenges facing European crime fighters.

Managing data analytics

A technical challenge faced by LEAs is the way data are organised and analysed. There is an ever-growing amount of information in the world, and novel applications in data analytics can deliver pertinent information to crime fighters. INSPECTr created a platform accessible to LEAs throughout Europe that facilitates investigating crimes spanning more than one jurisdiction. The platform, designed for digital forensics and intelligence gathering, integrates data that is both structured and unstructured, using big data analytics and machine learning to homogenise and interpret information. Innovative technologies improve the gathering, analysing and prioritising of data and make these processes more autonomous. To correlate massive amounts of information and make it accessible to end-users in law enforcement, researchers worked with Cyber-investigation Analysis Standard Expression (CASE) and e-CODEX. According to Ray Genoe, project coordinator: “CASE was the best available solution for evidential data standardisation. As a result, we joined their committees to help develop the ontology further. This was mutually beneficial and, in addition to expanding the ontology, we have developed tools to visualise and construct evidential data represented by the CASE format.”

Critical input from law enforcement agencies

To meet the needs of end-users, INSPECTr worked closely with LEAs at every step. In developing the platform, they targeted open source technologies to reduce cost, including tools from the ISF funded FREETOOL project. They created networks of LEA living labs to test new technologies as they arose. In the living labs, LEAs designed three complex cases using fictitious crimes and mock evidence to test the platform. The iterative testing process gave solution providers feedback to better meet the needs of law enforcement. According to Genoe: “The entire process was designed to involve LEAs throughout the project, from a very early stage, thereby ensuring future adoption and the sustainability of the project.” In addition to working with LEA teams through the living labs, INSPECTr set up an LEA steering group, provided workshops, policy recommendations, and impact assessments. The result was a platform that is both easy to use and affordable.

An emphasis on ethical concerns

Gathering and analysing data and making it accessible to LEAs throughout Europe raises ethical concerns. INSPECTr addressed these concerns in a myriad of ways. They set up an ethics advisory board and a security advisory board to make sure that all the platform was designed to do was in compliance with EU law. Collaboration with LEAs was integral to assessing legal and ethical concerns. The project made a point of applying principles of ethics to commercial technologies and technological issues. They also addressed issues of algorithmic bias as they developed the platform. Technology is a double-edged sword. Criminals have caught on and are using it to meet their harmful and illegal ends. The INSPECTr project helps law enforcement use the same sword to fight back.


INSPECTr, crime, cybercrime, organised crime, law enforcement agencies, data analytics

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