Get more answers from Call Detail Records using CellHawk software
Investigators and analysts can get the answers they need when analyzing CDRs
Sponsored by Hawk Analytics
By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne Brand Focus
There is no doubt that cell phones offer a proverbial gold mine of evidence for the modern investigator.
While the mobile device is often what is analyzed, there is also a rich vein of information running in the ether of the cellular network. CellHawk, a web-based application, lets investigators go further by digging into Call Detail Records from the carriers. Here’s how it works:
WORKING WITH CELL PHONE CALL DETAIL RECORDS
CellHawk software takes massive amounts of raw carrier data and distills it into an easy-to-read format saving precious time, said Mike Melson, president and founder of Hawk Analytics (parent company of CellHawk).
“Some software helps you get all the answers off the physical device itself,” Melson said. “But, there’s also a wealth of data and information stored in the cellular network about that target phone.”
Melson said CDRs can be enormous, sometimes 10,000 pages long and the cell phone companies provide them in a format which is not easily consumed. For example, these enormous spreadsheets or .PDF files contain information such as:
- call lengths
- call date and times
- cellular tower data
- latitude and longitude coordinates
- incoming and outgoing phone numbers
This may lead to data overload, Melson said.
HOW CELLHAWK WORKS
CellHawk processes this information quickly and maps and analyzes the data, offering a much more easily understood visual display of the records, Melson said.
Users access CellHawk through their browser with what he described as a “carrier aware” upload process.
“You can click on the file you want analyzed then drag and drop it into CellHawk, which starts the process,” he said.
CellHawk software allows investigators and analysts to turn raw carrier data into actionable leads in a fraction of the time it takes to analyze CDRs manually, Melson said.
In fact, CellHawk can take a week’s worth of investigator time deciphering CDRs down to just seconds, letting investigators spend more time chasing leads than building maps.
“There is no need to manipulate spreadsheets or parse text files prior to upload,” Melson said.
STATIC MAP VIEW
The static map view is a key feature of CellHawk.
This feature allows users to sort out the vast information contained in CDRs and map it out in selectable views in order to make sense of the data.
This mapping view takes the target’s phone activity and displays it in an interactive, visual map loaded with customizable features. CellHawk identifies the date and time of the event, the cell site and sector used, the duration, the type of event, and who the target is communicating with at the time.
The static map also reveals general GPS attuned information about the target phone, such as the most frequent locations visited, where the target spends most of their time, where they work, and where they sleep.
One of the strengths of this feature is investigators and analysts can use it to quickly discern if the target phone was near or at the crime scene before, during, or after the crime.
“The feature also can help eliminate suspects for the same reason, allowing investigators to quickly bypass dead ends,” Melson said.
Another innovative feature of CellHawk is the Animated View.
By conjoining the static map viewpoints, investigators can animate the target phone to show a device’s travel over the course of time and space.
Using the VCR feature, investigators can animate the record, depicting the use and location of the target phone as it relates to your event or crime.
“This information is based on accessed cell sites and helps accurately pin down the movement of the device,” Melson said. “The animated map view reveals behaviors of those investigated and is powerful evidence for a jury.”
Link Analysis is a powerful feature that crunches spreadsheets and displays a visual link graph of multiple target phones.
With a couple clicks users can see every single number the devices have communicated with, or narrow it down. Melson said within seconds, entire social or criminal networks can be revealed providing a critical wealth of information.
“There are far more leads and answers hiding in those spreadsheets and in that data than people realize,” he said. “Our mission is to easily and quickly unlock those leads and answers and put them in the hands of the investigators.”
These are only a few of the innovative features that help investigators and analysts analyze cell phone records. CellHawk also supports other datasets such as tower dumps, Cellebrite reports, Uber and Lyft records, GPS trackers, ankle bracelets, and even crime data. Basically any dataset with date and timestamps, incoming and outgoing numbers, and/or geo-location data can be loaded and analyzed.
Using CellHawk to process the carrier Call Detail Records can help investigators and analysts take the deluge of information available and map out a suspect’s profile—leading to more arrests and a safer community.