How can agencies use data most effectively?

Data management technologies help agencies find the clues hidden in their big data

By Pete Snelling, Principal Technical Consultant, SAS

As data volume increases, variety grows and velocity escalates, intelligence agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to unlock the secrets held in their data. A single system for data management – from collection and quality to analysis, reporting and security – will help your agency make the connections and deliver the answers at the right time to the right people.

A single data management system - with rugged and robust security - will allow you to accurately monitor and audit workflow to demonstrate that you followed the appropriate procedures.

Data collection and quality. Data comes from two main sources - external systems and data gathered internally (usually from officers on the street and from informants). Often data sets have very different structures - even the way names and addresses are stored can be radically different from system to system. This can mean that officers waste valuable time inputting the information in multiple locations.

Data quality is also increased when using a single system. As data is collected by the system, it is cleaned as part of an automated process that preserves the original as evidence while also creating a new, clean version. These efficiency gains can lead to a more effective policing agency.

Data analysis. Traditional analytics answers two questions: Can I find what I’m looking for? Do I understand the context of what I’ve found? This kind of approach works when agencies have a starting point to work from – that is, a known organization or set of individuals that can lead to other intelligence. The problem is that in the new intelligence landscape, (characterized by small, low-profile groups or individuals, often acting independently) we are often dealing with unknown unknowns. Agencies now need to apply advanced analytics to their data.

Advanced analytics allows agents and officers to answer questions like: Are we seeing a location that seems to have a disproportionate increase in crime? Are we seeing a person who seems to be attached to multiple intelligence reports – and therefore potentially represents a threat?

Reporting and data security. Predictive analytics and behavioral modeling look at all of the data and explore patterns. Instituting best practices in data collection and quality will ensure that the data is clean and accurate: Now it’s your responsibility to make sure the results are delivered on an as-needed basis and are easily understood. Visualization techniques can be used to allow users to manipulate the data – to ask and answer their own questions.

A single data management system - with rugged and robust security - will allow you to accurately monitor and audit workflow to demonstrate that you followed the appropriate procedures.

Technology keeps changing, and it changes quickly. And there are a raft of future challenges that will need to be addressed, ranging from data privacy to the ongoing explosion in data volumes.

Going forward, flexibility will be crucial. Choose a system that will accommodate rapidly changing technologies to help you tackle crime and preserve public security.


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