It’s like a scene in a crime movie: a bus is parked at the crime scene, with police inside conducting forensic digital investigation. In the Dutch region of Twente this is not fiction, but reality: at the initiative of a number of digital investigators, the so-called Specialist Investigation Vehicle (SRV) has been on the road there since February 2012.
Dutch regional police deploy special bus
Police in Enschede needed fast and good investigation on-site and a resource which facilitated such investigation. Back in 2010 the digital investigators in the police unit of the Netherlands East district of Twente were on the hunt for examples of mobile digital solutions. Digital investigators took a look at the police of Miami-Dade in the USA. They incorporated the technical ideas they saw there into the development of the SRV, the Specialist Investigation Vehicle.
Forensic digital investigation at the crime scene
A mobile solution like the SRV offered an answer, because the detectives did not have to drive to the lab with the digital data carriers, but could conduct forensic digital investigation right at the crime scene. Triage (prioritizing the most important items) was also possible, so that the detectives would not take too much evidence with them too readily. The advantage of the SRV is that the digital investigators of a large region such as Netherlands East could save a great deal of time by working on-site.
Working with Tracks Inspector
The Specialist Investigation Vehicle (SRV) also incorporates Fox-IT’s Tracks Inspector, software with which tactical investigators can read digital evidence material relatively easily. With Tracks Inspector the tactical investigator has direct access to the digital information and can apply relevant findings immediately in the investigation at the crime scene. Cooperation with the Specialist Investigation Vehicle in Twente thus also appeared to be a good combination. Tracks Inspector is user-friendly, intuitive and runs in a web browser. This is exactly what the tactical investigator needs to be able to conduct digital investigation easily himself.
The vehicle met a number of important criteria: it wasn’t too big, could be driven with a so-called ‘B’ driving license (i.e. up to 3.5 tons), and was equipped with power outlets and an internet connection. In the SRV forensic digital experts support the tactical investigation team with digital investigation, for example by examining data carriers, internet use, social media etc. So they can conduct all investigations on digital trace material, in this bus. The tactical investigator determines when this is needed. Over the past 10 months the SRV has been deployed every week for a variety of issues, ranging from murder to traffic checks and from environmental crimes to missing persons.
The police deploy the SRV on a regular basis and the digital investigators continue to expand and improve the possibilities. One of the advantages of the special police bus is that the tactical investigators see the added value of their digital colleagues. These two specialist teams move closer together and thanks to short lines, they can collaborate more efficiently. Conversely it is useful for the digital experts to be able to switch directly with their tactical colleagues. A solution like Tracks Inspector fits perfectly in this setting enabling perfect teamwork.