You know those complex wall charts in detective movies — the ones with red yarn connecting news clippings, mug shots and surveillance notes? While the drama they portray may be Hollywood, it turns out visualizing a case in this way has a purpose. They help detectives see connections people people, places and things.
“Cops do still use link charts, but they’re more helpful in complex, longitudinal investigations where there might be hundreds of people, places, phone numbers and IP addresses involved,” says Tim Dees, a retired police officer. “There is now software for managing this kind of information. While you might find one of the simpler board displays in a detective office, it’s far more likely this sort of thing will be kept on a computer.”
Data visualization software is not just for law enforcement investigations. Nowadays, software to conduct this type of link analysis is widely used both in and outside of police departments. These platforms can help your company prevent financial fraud, avoid insider threats, spot fraudulent insurance claims, and track connections in all kinds of investigations.
But how do you go about selecting the right Data Visualization tool?
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Selecting the right data visualization tool can be an overwhelming prospect. After all, choosing a good visualization tool is just as much about what you need and your capabilities as it is about what the software vendor has to offer. Before jumping in to your elbows, take a step back to determine what you really need.
Ask the right questions. Selecting the right data visualization tool isn’t just about compiling a list of your needs. It’s asking the software vendor how they will meet those needs. Take time to prepare a list of specific questions about what the solution can do for you. And insist on good answers to those questions.
Conduct an internal audit. How will you use the data visualization tool you’re looking to build into your processes? Assess the human resources you have available — and take an honest look at both your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to new tech. This will go a long way toward helping you understand not only the software you need, but the type of technology partner you need as well.
Narrow down the determining factors. What is most important to you and your organization? Narrow them down to a list of non-negotiables, nice-to-haves and could-do-withouts. If cost is a major concern, make that one of the first things you address with a software vendor. If you need the data visualization tool to easily integrate with your current cloud-based systems, ask how they will manage that (and if they have in the past).
First things first: you have to know what data visualization tools have to offer you in order to determine which factors are most important. Each platform will offer its own suite of features with key differences in these five areas: Consider these five different areas as you look into your options.
Make a checklist of key capabilities that you’ll need in a data visualization tool. Is the software easy to use by new users? Does it offer connectivity with your data? Does it allow for customization according to your needs and preferences?
Other functionalities to consider include data filtering and cleansing, as well as role-based access.
Speaking of role-based access — unless you are a one-person operation, you’ll need the data visualization tool to support collaboration across your team.
Can you limit access to certain data according to specific roles within the organization? How does the tool handle multiple users accessing the visualization dashboard at the same time? What does collaboration look like? Ideally, the software should include live updating, comments, case sharing and even a sandbox environment for testing out visualizations.
Data visualization tools are typically about identifying vulnerabilities and fraudulent activity. You’ll naturally want to be sure that the tool itself doesn’t put your data in danger. What kind of security measures does the software take for keeping the imported data safe?
Depending on your IT stack and your own security preferences, you may want a solution that can be easily deployed on your on-site servers. In contrast, you may want a lightweight solution that can be hosted in — and accessed from — the cloud.
Price may not be the most important factor when choosing among competing options for a data visualization tool, . Make sure your chosen vendor it’s a good point of comparison when consider a technology partner. While implementing a data visualization tool will certainly save you money in the long run, vendors should keep cost information up front to avoid surprises down the line.