Monday, September 09, 2013

PI Toolbox: Visualising Relationships & Networks

Hello Dear Reader. Today I thought I might share a couple of tools that you might find useful in regards to mapping out relationships and networks in regards to investigations.

While IBM's i2 platform is arguably the king of intelligence analysis software, the pricing is also princely. There are a few contenders to the throne (Palantir, Sentinel Visualizer, Wynyard Investigator to name but a few) some of which are focused on particular niches - such as total investigations case management coupled with an intelligence analysis suite to seek hidden information and linkages.

And naturally, they all come with hefty pricetags.

However, if you just want to map out information manually, and don't specifically need the deeper analysis functionality, there are a couple of free (or almost free) options out there.

The price is certainly right.

Maltego CaseFile

CaseFile is specifically targeted towards "investigators and analysts who are working 'on the ground', getting intelligence from other people in the team and building up an information map of their investigation."

Actually, CaseFile will map out linkages between entities from your dataset, however, I prefer just to create a map as I go manually such as the example below of an investigation into a workplace violence incident.

In this particular case, I wanted to map out who allegedly saw what and their relationships to each other as it was a tangle of conflicting stories given that the victim and alleged offender were related, and so too were a number of witnesses.

Messy.

Anyway, CaseFile offers a number of entity types for people, locations, devices, personal info etc. Furthermore, you can add photographs and notes to the entities (such as using a person's actual photo rather than the generic male graphic).

CaseFile is a work in progress and is billed as the little brother to Maltego.  

The Community Edition is free and a single licence is US$200 per year. Personally, I feel that CaseFile feels a little 'unfinished' and the price tag a little steep. Then again, I'm not really using it to its full potential either.

yEd Graph Editor

I only came across this the other day and have only had a cursory play with it but am suitably impressed. It seemingly has a number of uses from creating flowcharts, process diagrams, network mapping and the like and while it doesn't have some of the features of CaseFile, it isn't specifically focused on the investigations industry either.

But is it completely free.

What about you, Dear Reader? Are there any particular programmes that you use and would recommend?

Or do you use CaseFile? Examples would be great...

On another note, does anyone use case management software? Curious to hear your views on those too.



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