A San Francisco Bay Area company has combined its law enforcement search engine with Coplink, a well-known data-analysis tool, to make a smarter platform for sharing information and solving cases.
The first hour after a crime can be the most critical for solving it. Who witnessed the crime, what evidence remains intact and the whereabouts of the culprit may still be within reach of law enforcement. But an arrest depends on the ability to connect evidence to a suspect, and for most cases, that gets less likely by the hour and requires starting at square one for every new crime.
Forensic Logic, a San Francisco Bay Area cloud-software company that makes search and analysis tools for law enforcement, hopes to bring modern data science to bear on changing this.
Yesterday, the company announced Coplink X, a software-as-a-service that combines Forensic Logic’s proprietary search-engine technology with Coplink, a data-analysis tool the company acquired in 2017, used by thousands of departments across the U.S.
By migrating case files from Coplink users around the country to the cloud, combined with search and analysis functions, Coplink X purports to help investigators probe evidence from cases in other jurisdictions — shell casings, fingerprints, suspect descriptions — and find commonalities to solve crimes faster.
Forensic Logic CEO Brad Davis likened the new platform to “bringing Google to law enforcement.”
“After Sept. 11, there was a tremendous amount of money that was invested by the government into databases and information systems in the government space that were really built on outdated technology. They were built on federated searches that were very slow and clunky, and they all feel like logging into the DMV to renew your registration. It’s a painful process to get a small amount of information,” he said. “But at the same time, in the early 2000s, we saw the advent of companies … who were embracing cloud-based technology, and it created a revolution in how humanity accesses data. Law enforcement has unfortunately not been able to avail itself of that capability, until we’re now fusing together that same access to rich data with the speed and performance benefits of a cloud-based platform.”
In terms of data analytics, Davis said Coplink X will include Forensic Logic features such as extensive link analysis, geospatial analysis and cloud capabilities that can identify the most prolific criminals in a batch of search results; and from Coplink, the ability to consolidate cases and ensure related records are accurately connected in the network.
Davis said Coplink X has been beta tested by departments in Kansas City, New Orleans, Massachusetts and Oregon. It will be available as an update to all Coplink users, a figure Davis couldn’t precisely quantify because some agencies participate through others, but they number in the thousands nationwide.
Deputy Police Chief Dawn Layman of Lenexa, Kan., vouched for the search tool as faster and more intuitive than phone calls and emails. Layman is also the chairwoman of a regional consortium of 24 departments called Kansas City Emerging Threat Analysis Capability (KC ETAC), which has been using Coplink since 2008.
She pointed out that unlike government departments, criminals don’t have jurisdictions — 81 percent of people arrested by her department last year were not from Lenexa — so solving crimes often requires pulling information from other agencies.
“Departments do have silos, if they keep the information in their own entity. How we would get information in the past was sending emails — ‘Do you have information on this?’ — and then an email chain goes around,” she said. “Whereas now, these data sources are in one location. We can do the search and find out that maybe one of our neighboring jurisdictions had contact with this person or made an arrest, so it makes things a lot faster, because we’re sharing that data and have access.”
Absent real analogs in the current market, Davis said Coplink X’s competitors are antiquated legacy platforms like the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) and the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX), which are more limited in scope and function.