As described in my previous blog I recently presented at the UK Police Strategy Forum on ‘Gaining value from your data & leveraging new data sources’ and I wanted to share some observations on the second topic I covered: Why Search is limiting the value police get from their data.
We are all familiar with Search engines, thanks to Google. The ability to search for information has been built into more or less every knowledge management system or database since the internet was launched. However, the problem with search is that it limits your answers to only those that match your search question. You need to know what you are looking for and, during a police investigation, this runs the risk of missing an important piece of information which is outside your explicit search keywords.
To explain how Discovery differs from Search, I talked at the event about CGI’s Insight solution which utilises discovery technology to automatically analyse all types of data to identify entities such as names, places, phone numbers, substances etc. and automatically make the connections between them, across all of your data sources.
I also explained the differences between Structured Data – data in fields such as ‘name’, ‘address’, ‘email address’ etc. and Unstructured Data – i.e data contained within the body of an email such as a phone number (think about your e-Signature as an example). I highlighted the massive increase in unstructured data over recent years through the significant increase in social media, blogging, and even within police systems such as evidence management, crime records, and custody records etc.
The added benefit of tools such as the CGI Insight toolset is that it changes how an analyst spends their time, moving from collecting and mapping their data, to exploring the automatically created connections and often, in many cases, allowing some of the analytics to be completed by investigating officers rather than specialist analysts.
Again, I asked the audience the following questions. The % figures represent a positive answer.
- How many of you believe technology is no longer the challenge to understanding your data (70%)
- How many of you believe that large investments for data analytics are still an issue (20%)
- How many of you have a data strategy (15%)
- How many of you have a plan for getting more value from your data (5%)
- How many of you generally are still trying to understand what to do (80%)
At a personal level, I was surprised to see the high number of police forces who do not seemingly have a data strategy, especially with the overwhelming level of data now available from police and public sources.
As technology was not felt to be the restricting factor generally in the room , it’s a shame to see that something as simple as a strategy on the matter may well be.