Guest Post: It’s Time to Tear Down the Silos – The Power of Integration

Here at Magnet Forensics, we greatly value our industry partnerships, so you can imagine how thrilled we were when Griffeye approached us to post an opinion piece (pretty on the nose one too, if you ask us…) on our blog.

Headshot of Johann Hofmann, head of Griffeye
Johann Hofmann, Head of Griffeye

Our relationship with Griffeye has grown over the last year and we are currently readying the next leg of our global roadshow to showcase the power of integrating tools in an examination – and the importance of vendors providing true integration. (Learn more about the tour here.) Recently Johann Hofmann, Head of Griffeye, spoke with our own Founder and CTO Jad Saliba (you can read that Q&A here) about the industry and the importance of integration.

Now Johann offers his own insight on the need for the industry to think differently about their tool kits, and to expect more from software and tools providers when it comes to setting up investigative teams for success.

Johann considers the difficulties that investigators and their teams face working in silos even as they try to cope with increasing volumes of evidence and heavy caseloads. He believes it’s a challenge that technology providers have a duty to address. To give the power back to the users and help them get better and quicker case results.

So long to the silo: It’s time to put investigators back in control

Working in silos is a well-recognized problem within many organizations and information systems. These silos end up isolating people and projects, negatively affecting workflow and the chance of success. In my own experience, and from speaking to users, they’re also one of the main obstacles for law enforcement investigators and their teams as they look to share workload, information, and expertise – and ultimately solve cases.

So what exactly are we dealing with? Let’s break it down to three common types of silo that users and their teams often seem to experience:

  1. The User Silo

It’s an all too familiar story. A single user is left on their own with all the case information, specialist experience, and heavy workload. Not to mention all the responsibility and stress of achieving a vital result under time pressure, even when trying to solve the most horrific crimes such as identifying victims of child sexual abuse.

  1. The Tool Silo

Over just a few short decades, our digital society has evolved at a mind-boggling rate. Digital crime has kept the same dizzying pace. The seized data was once often just small amounts and quite basic, meaning one or two computer forensic tools could do the job. But the digital information seized today is very different. A whole range of specialized tools is required to achieve results. Unfortunately, the concept of interoperability (i.e. tools sharing data) is not something that has been encouraged by the majority of the tool providers so far. So what happens to the case and your workflow when the information is stuck in one tool? A tool silo means you aren’t going to get the results your hard work deserves – and that can even mean crimes going unsolved. 

  1. The Information Silo

This is a combination of the two previous silos – and far too often the reality for many law enforcement investigators. With data that is stored in the tool rather than centrally and is difficult to export and share with other users, there is even less ability to share information, specialist experience, and workload to relieve the physical and mental burden on individual investigators. There’s even the risk of information being lost as you share it from one tool to another. The result? Increased stress and frustration as cases are harder and take longer to solve. And perhaps many cases never get fully closed because you are not detecting all the clues and connecting all the dots.   

Escaping the silo – The role of technology providers

These silos can seem like an impossible challenge. But where there’s a will there’s a way. Because as technology providers, we are partly responsible for creating this problem due to us driving a business model that closed the users into proprietary tools and formats. We can find solutions that would help investigators escape the silo and make the job easier and more rewarding. If we could give more users the best, fully integrated tools, along with the ability to share information, experience, and workload with other specialists, we can help deliver a far smoother and more effective workflow. And, most importantly, far better and quicker results.   

It’s my belief that this collaborative and integrated approach that helps teams move through their cases quickly is as important as building great tools in the first place. I’ve witnessed that  first-hand while working with Project VIC and our friends at Magnet Forensics. With an open approach to helping each other and ultimately the users for the greater good, I’ve seen how building seamless and automatic integration between technologies really sets a new standard. Letting investigators tell a complete evidence story and uncover the truth. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.   

It’s time for the industry to say goodbye to the silo once and for all – and embrace the opportunities to share the load and work better together. As technology providers and investigators. We will continue to work with partners such as Magnet Forensics to find new points of integration for our solutions, like the recent updates made to Magnet AXIOM that allow investigative teams to export evidence to Griffeye and then re-import the newly categorized data back into AXIOM to create a complete and comprehensive report.

Breaking down silos and finding points for true integration will fundamentally help our customers build stronger cases and find more evidence.