Case Study: National Police Force

6th December, 2013

KeyLines has been used to deploy sophisticated network visualization capability in many high profile and complex organizations. In this case study, we explain how KeyLines helped a major European national police force visualize and analyze communication records data.

The Customer

The customer is a leading systems integrator (SI) whose current clients include multinational bodies, government ministries and law enforcement agencies across Europe. They were seeking a new visualization solution for one of their existing customers – a national police force.

With over 100,000 officers, the police force is one of the largest in Europe. They have made extensive use of network visualization technology during their investigations. In particular they have leveraged call records analysis to uncover evidence of suspected criminal activity and understand dynamics of criminal organizations.

The Problem

In late 2013, the SI approached Cambridge Intelligence seeking a superior alternative to their existing network visualization solution. The software they had previously deployed to the police force had been hindered by their supplier’s decision to stop on-going development and maintenance.

This posed several problems for the SI:

  • Unreliable – The old network visualization tool relied upon Java applet technology. The technology could be unreliable and subjected their developers to long start-up times and frequent annoyances.
  • Insecure – Java applets are fast becoming obsolete thanks to a number of security issues caused by vulnerable code and broken patches.
  • Unmaintained – As the software was de-prioritized by the software manufacturer, our customer found their existing tool suffered from a lack of new feature development.

The police force also suffered from the following issues:

  • Security – The visualization product required the supplier to grant certificates for each machine. This could take a substantial period of time to be received and caused long lead times and investigation delays.
  • Support – Users were trying to utilize the product on a daily basis and experienced recurrent problems but received no support.

The Requirements

With so many users spread over a wide geographic area, it was essential to have a solution that could fit seamlessly into the police force’s current workflow.

The SI’s requirements included:

  • Easy integration – a drop-in replacement that could be deployed into the police force’s environment and existing workflows seamlessly was essential.
  • Complete customization – It was important for the product to work and feel the same as the offering currently used by the police force.
  • Support – Easy access to technical support for the SI was essential.
  • Innovate – The SI wanted to stay ahead of competitors by utilizing a platform that would continue to deliver innovative functionality.

Reliability was also a key consideration. For the benefit of both the SI and the police force, it was essential to find a solution that could guarantee no lost time through persistent breakdowns or long start-up times.

The Solution

Using KeyLines’ flexible JavaScript toolkit, the SI built a customized deployment of KeyLines that had all the features of their former product combined with our additional functionality. The new product employs a similar user interface, with menus, toolbars and styling exactly as the police force required.

The Project – Phase 1

In phase 1 of the project, KeyLines was embedded within the system integrator’s own infrastructure and a fully functioning prototype replacement for their product was developed within a week or two. The SI remarked on the ease of use, bug-free development experience, and the robustness of KeyLines. Based on this good experience, they have decided to develop an improved version utilizing KeyLines’ additional features.

The Project – Phase 2

The next version of the product was significantly enhanced by incorporating some of KeyLines’ most unique features. The capacity to display police photos as images in networks and to utilize social network analysis (SNA) measures made visualizing and analyzing data easier and more comprehensive than ever before. Glyphs were especially welcomed as a means to add contextual detail to a chart, for example to highlight individuals currently under investigation elsewhere. In addition, the flexibility that KeyLines provided in terms of halos and dotted links allowed the police to create richer and more actionable network charts.

The Project – Phase 3

The SI has now completely replaced the police force’s old Java solution with KeyLines. Their plan is to develop their most advanced product yet by integrating the KeyLines Time Bar. The police force has held a long-standing interest in visualizing temporal data and were so enthused by the new functionality that the SI have already begun the integration process. Throughout the project, the SI has found that KeyLines was capable of providing everything they wanted and more.

Of the successful deployment, Cambridge Intelligence CEO Joe Parry said:

“It’s testimony to the flexibility and robustness of KeyLines that a major European police force was able to integrate such powerful network visualization so seamlessly. We were able to enhance their existing analysis processes by providing features and reliability that they were previously lacking. KeyLines has made understanding and analyzing connections in their data so much simpler, faster and more effective.”

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