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Criminal Gang Connections Mapped via Phone Metadata

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A potential of a criminal network?

Researchers have developed software that uses metadata from phones to map links between members of a criminal network.

Credit: Shutterstock

LogAnalysis software developed by Indiana University researchers has been used to tap metadata from phones to map links between a criminal network in Sicily, enabling the police to determine who was involved, their collaborators, and even what role they may have played in crimes.

The researchers take suspects' phone records and feed the information into LogAnalysis. One person's data is sufficient for plotting out a viable map of their place within the network, while partners and leaders are identified by statistical algorithms.

Among the rules of thumb the researchers have outlined via their analyses is that lower-level lackeys send many short calls and texts at the time a crime occurs, while higher-ups tend not to receive too many calls, although they will frequently take one right after the commission of a crime.

Indiana University's Emilio Ferrara notes that unlike the data-sifting methods employed by the U.S. National Security Agency, LogAnalysis "works on a small scale, focused on the analysis of small circles around these suspects." Ferrara thinks a future LogAnalysis iteration might predict the likelihood of crimes such as robberies, or determine if a law-abiding person with a connection to a criminal network is likely to eventually commit a crime.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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