Cell Phone Temporal Data Analysis Isolates Criminals
After a recent string of robberies in Italy, a new forensic tool that makes it easy to explore reams of cell phone data revealed an incriminating pattern: Leading up to and after each robbery, there were flurries of calls between members of a gang suspected in a series of gun thefts, car thefts and supermarket stickups. But in the end, it was silence that betrayed the gang: There were no calls during the minutes when the crimes were being committed.
The new data analysis tool called LogAnalysis makes it especially easy to visualize the relationships among conspiring suspects as revealed by their phone calls. Developed by scientists at the University of Messina in Italy, the program takes algorithms that researchers typically use to investigate relationships among organisms in an ecosystem or the flow of information in a friendship network, and brings that math together in a manner tweaked specifically for investigating crime.
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