facebook pixel image Link analysis: The lynchpin to better investigations

Link analysis: The lynchpin to better investigations

Criminal investigations worldwide face a monumental big data problem that is only escalating in the digital age. On one hand, more data means more opportunity to gain critical insights needed to draw conclusions, make connections and solve crimes. On the flip side, big data precludes filtering or analyzing data with traditional methods.

Today’s data is massive, complex, continuously changing and varied. The reality is that many investigators have become overwhelmed with information, and identifying connections in data is often an arduous and time-consuming task.

That’s where link analysis tools can help. Link analysis can be used to evaluate relationships and connections among people, organizations and transactions. It can be a powerful tool to identify patterns and trends and drastically reduce the time and effort required to expose patterns indicative of fraud, money laundering and a host of other criminal activities.

At its core, link analysis centers on identifying hidden connections and relationships in a data set that are otherwise hard to spot. Common types of networks include:

  • Social networks that reveal who is speaking to whom
  • Semantic networks that reveal and highlight related topics
  • Conflict networks showing connections and alliances among entities

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Link Analysis tools like Visallo (shown above) expose relationships between entities, uniquely enabling investigators to understand complex data. Contact Us to chat with the Visallo team or Schedule a Demo.


Exposing relationships in an intuitive way

Link analysis is proving invaluable for criminal investigators by enabling them to draw more precise conclusions through the visual analysis of connections. Investigators can use link analysis tools to analyze immense volumes of data by rapidly filtering and examining data streams and databases and uncovering connections between entities and accounts, then visually displaying the resulting networks to uncover suspicious or fraudulent activity and accelerate arrest and capture.

In police investigations, technical analysts frequently refer to links and nodes in a criminal network as relationships and entities. The entities might be criminals, vehicles, weapons, organizations, bank accounts, etc.

The ability to easily visualize graphs of interconnected entities (e.g. people, organizations, locations) is critical to solving complex cases. Without such visualizations, analysts are left to keep intricate webs of connections in their heads, or document them in spreadsheets.

Some link data, such as detailed phone call records, may be structurally simple but large in overall volume, with consistent link and node types and a large amount of regularity. Other data, such as law enforcement and police data, may be exceptionally rich and wide-ranging, but limited, with elements containing confidence values and attributes that may vary over time. Such data may include phone records of victims, previous arrests, employment histories, or problems with drugs or alcohol. The analysis allows investigators to better anticipate and predict those who are more likely to commit future crimes and develop an appropriate strategy for future crime reduction.

The inherent value of link analysis is its ability to quickly and easily reveal many types of relationships between accounts. When data is integrated and visualized, investigators can more rapidly understand the depth of relationships and quickly uncover new associations.

In most instances, linkage data is displayed as a graph, with nodes signifying entities of interest and links indicating transactions or relationships. Links and nodes might possess attributes exclusive to the domain. For instance, link attributes may signify the strength or certainty a relationship, the value of a transaction, or the likelihood of fraud or deception.

When network graphs become large and complex, understanding how entities are connected can be an enormous challenge. Most link analysis tools will automatically lay out entities in a variety of predefined orientations. These automatic layouts logically organize graphs quickly and easily, helping investigators to find the most important entities

Bolstering the strength of investigations

When investigators are assigned to investigate criminal activity, the task can be daunting because of the sheer amount of information that must be reviewed and evaluated. The good news is that there are tools that can help.

Methods for exploring associations among large numbers of different objects are critical for investigators to understand complex data networks and draw conclusions that are not visible from any single piece of information. Armed with a set of powerful and well-designed link analysis tools, investigators can gain an important weapon in the ongoing battle against escalating criminal threats.


For more on Visallo and how it can help your organization strengthen your investigations, set up a time to talk with us or visit our videos page for an in-depth look at how investigations work with Visallo.