How Can Agencies Set Their Plan for Policing in 2025
Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from Policing 2025: Envisioning a New Framework for Investigations (©2020 IDC #US46946220), a recent white paper created by Alison Brooks at IDC and sponsored by Cellebrite. The paper may be downloaded in its entirety here.
Key Enablers to Optimizing Digital Intelligence
Digital Intelligence solutions are complex entities with multiple moving parts that must function seamlessly for a wide variety of trained personnel including first responders, forensic examiners, investigators, and prosecutors — and all associated workflows. Data interoperability, unification, searchability, automation, and defensibility are key factors propelling real progress in solving cases quickly in exceptionally complex times (see below figure).
These key enablers are described as follows:
- Data interoperability underpins discoverability. In 2025, police agencies rely on standards-based and platform-based solutions that are vendor agnostic. They are founded on data exchange models like the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), fundamentally transforming data exchange and making it easier to seamlessly connect data sources. Data interoperability facilitates discoverability.
- Data unification catalyzes time to evidence. Managing a wide variety of data types is now the norm, and data complexity is managed seamlessly and in near real-time. Digital intelligence solutions fundamentally transform how first responders, forensic examiners, investigators, and prosecutors discover defensible evidence within exceptionally large data sets coming from smartphones and social media as well as internet- and cloud-based service providers. The unification and integration of diverse sources and digital artifacts into a single intelligence platform provide agencies with a rich set of digital evidence that is unearthed quickly.
- Accessible, intuitive, collaborative, and searchable systems increase case closure rates. Data analysis in the intelligence platform is intuitive and simplified so that agencies can visualize meaningful patterns, connections, and networks in minutes. Searchability is central to the platform, allowing investigators to keyword search for coded data and metadata for call records, social media postings, photos, and so forth.
- Automation speeds investigations. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data visualization, and advanced and predictive analytics provide decision support capabilities while eliminating endless hours spent on manual exploration of data. Advanced video and image analytics solutions automatically identify and hash mark images related to key investigative areas such as trafficking, weaponry, nudity, faces, patterns, and child exploitation.
- Solution defensibility closes cases. Almost all investigations involve digital evidence of some kind, and of varying levels of complexity; digital intelligence from cloud-based assets (public domain and private social media data, transaction-generated information, instant messaging services, etc.) is managed appropriately in a legally defensible manner.
With more than 60,000 deployments in 150 countries, Cellebrite is a global leader in the digital intelligence platform. Cellebrite supports over 35,000 different smartphone device profiles. Its central lines of business include law enforcement, military, the intelligence community, and enterprise investigation solutions. As such, its customers are among the world’s largest and most technologically advanced public safety agencies.
Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence platform consists of an integrated suite of solutions and offerings that have recently begun to segment workflows into interconnected segments, defined as follows:
- Collection: Lawful access to ever-evolving data types and sources
- Investigative analytics: Analyze and manage vast amounts of data to create actionable intelligence
Recent product development has separated capabilities for the field, station, and lab solutions. This distinction is important as providing field personnel with more tailored tools democratizes access to data throughout the workforce. The field solutions are also more targeted in the digital assets that they are extracting, in response to privacy concerns, specifically concerns over “overreach.” For example, during large-scale incidents, it is common protocol to extract all of the data from smartphones in the area at the time of the incident; this typically requires that the device is ported back to the lab or, conversely, that the data is extracted on the scene, which can take hours. Targeted extractions are faster, are less intrusive, and can also help investigating agents understand whether there is in fact cause to take the phone back to the lab.
Cellebrite is currently developing its next-generation collection and investigative analytics solution, Cellebrite Pathfinder, which is specifically designed to more rapidly find digital evidence and drive investigations, all while ensuring compliance with privacy and chain-of-evidence protocols. Consider, for example, the data generated by drone footage as part of an investigation. Five years ago, this would have been used very infrequently; now it is commonplace in policing. Furthermore, Cellebrite’s research lab is focused on innovations to counter advances in encryption on smartphone devices and social media platform information.
Within law enforcement, Cellebrite’s offerings are particularly useful in investigating complex and covert crimes including gang violence, drug trafficking, counterterrorism, border security, homicides, and child sexual exploitation. Cellebrite’s advanced unlock services can overcome complex locking and encryption technologies, allowing investigators to access data, remove blind spots in the data, and unearth case-relevant evidence. The insights gleaned from the digital intelligence platform are increasingly generating formative leads, which are important in terms of decreasing the time to evidence while augmenting success in that critical 48-hour window.
As agencies cope with a continual state of reinvention, in an increasingly complex world, Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence solutions, training, and services help agencies digitally transform, quickly automating discoverability across a myriad of digital assets and evidence and providing insights to all manner of personnel across the judicial continuum including investigators, examiners, analysts, prosecutors, and command staff.
The data-driven policing solution landscape is crowded, complex, and evolving daily. Cellebrite will need to articulate its message to rise above the crowd; this is no small undertaking. This trend toward congestion is likely to continue as vendors with niche technology offerings outside of policing are recognizing the opportunity that exists in this market. In addition, post-COVID-19, there may be considerable shortfalls in tax revenue, and this will likely create budgetary constraints, shifting spending to what is necessary to public safety. Cellebrite will need to communicate the essential nature of its solutions and drive home the ROI that is gained from its technology implementations. Last, momentum in the encryption space, both on the smartphone and within social media–generated content, is likely to cause Cellebrite to work creatively to provide clients with the data and insights to which they are accustomed.
Essential Guidance/Call to Action
Police agencies globally are experiencing a series of rapid, momentous changes, the pace, and scale of which are unprecedented. They must reinvent core service delivery while simultaneously re-establishing public trust in policing. COVID-19 has been a catalyst to deploy new technology that can provide a solid foundation to enable future reinvention in response to the inevitable next disruption. The crisis has also highlighted the need for consistent digital maturity across solutions, agencies, and jurisdictions.
Policing agencies looking for digital intelligence platform solutions to make them more efficient and transparent, and to establish credibility while enhancing trust, should heed the following advice:
- With the continuous escalation of digital assets, digital intelligence platforms are more important now than ever. Digital intelligence platforms rein in data chaos and complexity, quickly transforming data into information, then into knowledge, and then into insight. This translates into faster time to establishing evidence.
- It will be increasingly important to automate the collection, analysis, and sharing of heterogeneous data sets. Agencies will need to focus efforts on force multipliers such as AI, machine learning, and cloud processing to deliver insights at scale.
- Understand where there are gaps in the agency’s digital maturity; the vendor community supporting this market understands how to help surmount critical gaps, no matter how and where you are in the process of digital reinvention. There is no wrong door.
Read the full whitepaper here.
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