Every day, EPS collects vast amounts of digital evidence. Buried within it can be case-changing insights—but relying on traditional methods to find crucial clues is time-consuming and costly.
With a pioneering digital policing platform, EPS plans to unify and analyze data from multiple sources to help uncover leads faster and give officers real-time situational insights.
Fasterdata access potentially drives faster decisions and investigative lead times
Revealshidden clues in digital evidence that can help solve cases and catch criminals
Offersreal-time intelligence to help officers stay safer in the field
Business challenge story
Finding smarter ways to fight crime
Digital evidence can help police teams solve crimes and catch offenders—but if you don’t have the right tools, uncovering crucial clues can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Although law enforcement agencies have more data at their disposal than ever, many simply do not have the time or resources to use it effectively.
This is exactly the challenge facing Edmonton Police Service (EPS), the municipal police force for the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. With millions of pieces of digital evidence, EPS found it challenging to put its data to use in a timely and effective way.
Greg Preston, Deputy Chief of the Intelligence and Investigations Bureau at EPS, begins: “Our policing efforts bring in an incredible amount of data, from almost every source imaginable: witness statements, public- and partner-supplied video footage, forensic evidence, and more. This information is invaluable, but it takes a small army to piece through it all and identify the key pieces of evidence that help police officers solve cases.”
Like many law enforcement agencies, EPS stores different data types in purpose-built software programs. Each of its teams had distinct ways of managing information, making it difficult for the organization to build up a common view of the data.
With data volumes only continuing to grow, EPS recognized that this disjointed approach was inefficient. To tap into the true value of its data assets, the organization needed a smarter, more efficient and effective way to work.
“Our people are very good at what they do, and we wanted to give them the tools to be even more effective,” says Brock Kahanyshyn, Chief Information Officer at EPS. “By bringing all our digital records together in one place and making it easier for people to surface leads hidden in the data, we could point investigators in the right direction faster, saving time and resources, and potentially helping them solve cases sooner.”
Unlocking the power of digital evidence data
EPS had a goal to transform digital evidence from multiple sources and systems into a consistent, easily searchable source of intelligence. The aim was to integrate powerful business intelligence and data mining tools to reveal connections, patterns and clues—a first-of-its-kind project in Canada.
After a thorough evaluation process, EPS chose a joint solution from a consortium comprised of IBM and IBM Business Partners Genus Technologies and Sierra Systems. EPS will build the digital policing platform on an integrated suite of enterprise content management, analytics and cognitive solutions from IBM, along with media streaming software from Genus Technologies. Sierra Systems will provide software reselling and project integration services.
At the heart of the new platform will be a centralized data repository, built on IBM® FileNet® Content Manager, which teams across the organization can use to search and access digital evidence in just a few mouse clicks. EPS will employ additional solution capabilities, such as:
- IBM Datacap software to automatically extract key data from paper records, transform it into rich digital content, and deliver the information to the digital policing repository.
- IBM Case Manager to group related content in a single electronic workspace and streamline case-related activities—helping teams access and work with information in a more efficient and controlled way.
- IBM Records Manager to help ensure that all its content is managed consistently from creation to deletion, establishing consistent policies and rules for document retention, legal holds and audits.
This robust content management foundation will serve as a launchpad for new big data and analytics initiatives. EPS expects to harness text analytics and machine learning capabilities from IBM Watson® Explorer to analyze large volumes of structured and unstructured content and reveal patterns. In addition, the organization plans to integrate existing business intelligence and analytics applications with the digital policing platform, opening up even more ways for teams to harness data in the fight against crime.
Kahanyshyn remarks: “We’ve built an excellent team of developers, analysts, configuration specialists and more within EPS staff to help guide this initiative. We are also very lucky to have the full support of EPS executives and our front-line officers. This will be a truly collaborative effort involving all levels of the organization.”
EPS plans to bring the new platform into operation in a controlled way, aiming to have a base level of functionality in place by early 2019. The organization will continue to evolve the platform over the course of several years, refining its capabilities and integrating key business systems, including the Edmonton Police Reporting and Occurrence System (EPROS), as well as business intelligence and analytics applications.
Project Manager Mark Carnduff explains: “We don’t want to overwhelm people with too much new functionality right out of the gate. We are working hard to adapt the new solutions to fit the way that our teams are used to working, instead of forcing them to change with the technology. We believe this will help to get everyone on board with the new platform and allow the organization to evolve onto the system based on experience to obtain maximum benefit from the solutions.”
Leading the way in digital policing
For EPS, the ultimate goal of all of this work is to make it easier for police officers and other EPS employees to deliver improved safety and quality of life for the citizens of Edmonton.
With its digital policing platform, EPS will be able to more effectively access the evidence that it currently holds. Teams will be released from time spent searching for documents and digital exhibits, freeing them to focus on analysis and investigative work. And by digging deeper into all its data sources, EPS hopes to reveal previously hidden patterns and clues that generate leads and help teams solve cases.
The organization is also creating new opportunities for cross-team collaboration. By better integrating the various legacy software programs that currently exist between different divisions, EPS can open up new avenues of investigation and bring fresh perspectives to cases, potentially enabling teams to make new connections that could help identify and catch criminals.
Carnduff comments: “Right now there could be insights hidden beneath mountains of evidence data that could change the entire outcome of a case. With the digital policing platform, we will make it easier for teams to tap into this data and find that needle in the haystack that could solve a case.”
Importantly, EPS will be able to deliver these potentially case-changing capabilities while continuing to meet its statutory obligations, particularly when it comes to maintaining a chain of custody for evidence.
“Once a case goes to court, we must prove that every piece of evidence has remained intact and not been mishandled or tampered with,” states Deputy Chief Preston. “Our efforts around information lifecycle management will help us establish that chain of custody, which can be crucial to the outcomes of a court case.”
Forming the building blocks for future innovation
The work that EPS is pioneering today around digital evidence management and analysis will form the building blocks for future innovation. This includes establishing an operational intelligence command center, where EPS will use real-time data and predictive analytics technology to help law enforcement stay one step ahead of offenders.
Preston explains: “The operational intelligence command center will equip officers with real-time situational insights. This will help limit the unknowns and enable our front-line teams to make smarter, safer decisions in a timelier manner.
“Data is one of the most powerful weapons that we have in the fight against crime, and our digital policing platform will help us make the most of this asset,” concludes Preston. “Our police officers put their lives on the line to protect and serve the people of Edmonton, and we owe it to them to deliver the intelligence and tools they need to keep our community, and themselves, safe.”
About Edmonton Police Service
Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is the municipal police force for the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1892, today EPS has 1,790 sworn members and 700 unsworn members, and operates 15 stations throughout the city.
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Genus Technologies helps clients to unify the management of enterprise content, video and rich media, providing centralized control over all their digital assets. Founded in 2008, Genus Technologies is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia and founded in 1966, Sierra Systems is a top-tier IT services and management consulting firm offering a full range of advisory services, systems integration, and managed application services.