Discover how technology helps manage the growth in digital evidence

a store inside of a building

Digital evidence appears in nearly 90 percent of all crimes committed today.1 This is a massive increase. Only 20 years ago it was unusual to have digital evidence at the center of a case. It’s now a big part of what juries and judges expect to see as part of the evidence that proves innocence or guilt. But without technology, analyzing all that data is a massive undertaking. Microsoft for Public Safety and Justice enables agencies to leverage AI and machine learning to empower their investigators to be more efficient and effective.

The volume of digital evidence is growing at an exponential rate

In our modern society, it’s not surprising that crimes often involve digital evidence. The ubiquity of cameras, cell phones, and laptops or tablets, along with vast quantities of email, texts, photos, social media posts, and other digital content has exponentially increased the volume of material investigators have to sift through to solve a crime.

With the ever-increasing volume of data, there are not enough hours in a day, week, or year for an investigator to review all the data. Even if they could review it all, how long would it take for them to categorize and file it in an organized way to be able to go back to a particular piece of information? Then, how do you find connections and correlations across all the data? In law enforcement, time-to-evidence is crucial.

Reviewing crime data poses big challenges

With limited resources, even the most skilled law-enforcement personnel are hard-pressed to comb through terabytes of data that may include hours of videos, tens of thousands of images, and hundreds of thousands of words in the form of text, email, and other sources.

One possible solution is to augment skilled investigators and forensic examiners with technology. Some of the key technological capabilities that can be applied to this problem are AI and machine learning. AI and machine learning models and applications create processes that read, watch, extract, index, sort, filter, translate, and transcribe information from text, images, and video.

By utilizing technology to carve through and analyze data, it’s possible to reduce the data mountain to a series of small hills of related content and add tags that make it searchable. This empowers personnel to spend their time and energy on work that is most valuable in the investigation.

We’re ready to help

The good news is that help is available. Microsoft has multiple AI and machine learning processes within our Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services. These include video indexing, language identification and translation, object detection in images, and optical character recognition from text within images—just to mention a few. Azure Cognitive Services have multiple methods of being deployed and incorporated into existing solutions and workflows to help solve the massive data challenge.

The Microsoft public safety team of industry and technology experts can help to package together critical services and solutions to enable organizations to deploy into a Microsoft Azure environment quickly and efficiently. These services can then be configured and extended to enhance existing products and workflows that meet your specific needs. By integrating Azure Cognitive Services into existing systems, analysts, investigators, and examiners can continue using familiar tools that they are already trained to use, and organizations can continue to get value from previous investments.

Microsoft has a robust partner ecosystem that builds on the power of our Azure platform to support public safety organizations achieve their mission priorities. Many of your organizations are already utilizing these partners’ tools and can maximize their effectiveness by shifting from on-premises, stove-piped processes and systems to a fully integrated cloud platform.

Visit the Microsoft for Public Safety and Justice website to learn how Microsoft and our partners can help empower ingestigators better manage the exponentially growing amounts of data police now collect as evidence.

Customer trust through ethics and responsibility

Microsoft believes the use of AI-based technologies must always be applied through a lens of ethical use. In law enforcement, this is very important. AI must be accompanied by a policy and set of guidelines that describe how it is used, by whom it may be used, and for what purpose. There should be a clear line and distinction where AI stops, and a person takes over in the investigative process. AI should augment investigators to assist with the sorting, filtering, categorizing, searching, and recalling of data as well as the correlation of disparate information. All of this is then presented as investigative leads and suggestions to reduce the time to evidence and increase the speed of investigations. The investigator is enhanced by AI, not replaced by it. Well-designed policies and procedures openly shared with the public build trust and transparency, building support for the use of technology.

For more information please review the Microsoft On the Issues blog: Microsoft’s framework for building AI systems responsibly.

Microsoft for Public Safety and Justice

Empowering agencies. Improving operations. Protecting communities.

a person driving a car

1Digital forensics experts prone to bias, study shows. The Guardian.