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How and When Does Law Enforcement Use Identity Resolution?

How and When Does Law Enforcement Use Identity Resolution?

Law enforcement relies on a number of cutting edge tools. While television makes it look like every station has high-end DNA processing and massive forensics labs, the truth is that many agencies depend even more on the kinds of tools that are also used by many businesses. In fact, law enforcement uses identity resolution to solve several important problems.

Matching Across Databases

One of the most important ways that law enforcement agencies use identity resolution software is to cross-reference databases. Law enforcement data is notoriously scattered across many different places, split not only between the state and federal level but also between cities and counties. Complicating matters further is that a great deal of information is also split between different bureaus and organizations, making it hard for law enforcement to access its own data.

Through the use of identity resolution, though, similar data can be matched and law enforcement can get a better idea of what’s really going on. Services offed by companies like NetOwl can be used to search and index names even when they aren’t an exact match in various data bases.

Pattern Recognition

Identity resolution isn’t just used to pull up names and dates. It can also be used to find similarities in certain types of data, which helps law enforcement agencies to see the larger patterns in the information that they use. Agencies can use software to connect the dots in operations as different as anti-money laundering measures and identifying potential human traffickers. Humans may not be able to see the patterns in these cases, but the programs certainly can.

The programing they use can search for connections between people and organizations. It can tell search for names in relation to location, places of employment, education, and more. While there might be databases full of information available to law enforcement agencies, having the tools to comb through the data effectively is essential.

Cleaning Up Files

Like many other organizations, law enforcement agencies generate an absurd amount of redundant data. This slows down the workflow of these agencies and wastes valuable time in the process. As such, many agencies use identity resolution software to help identify places where redundant data is stored so they can purge unnecessary files and combine the data from various sources into more useful files. While this is simple maintenance to many, it does contribute to the efficacy of many agencies.

For example, if you consider how many ways one name can be written, it’s clear why this is necessary. A Chinese name would be spelled with the English alphabet in America and Chinese characters in China. Alternately, a person’s name may be hyphenated, shortened, or misspelled in some cases. Situations like these could result in multiple files on the same person. This is where identity resolution comes into play.

Confirming Identities

Perhaps the most important way that law enforcement uses identity resolution, though, is to ensure that they don’t make mistakes. Because there is so much data and so much of it seems similar, human nature dictates that wires can be crossed and the wrong people can be accused of doing things they didn’t do. Using this process helps law enforcement to cross-reference difference files and to make sure that the information gathered about a suspect actually conforms to the identity of the person in custody. The software used for this can cross reference information tied to individuals, such as children or spouses, to confirm that you are looking at the correct data.

Identity resolution can be used in ways both big and small, but it is important. From identifying suspects to cleaning up workflow, it’s an important part of law enforcement. In fact, it is crucial in operations such as immigration, border patrol, and homeland security. While this process doesn’t get much press, it’s hard to see how many agencies could competently function without identity resolution. Even if they have access to all the necessary data, it needs to be easily searchable and effectively index to be us any use.


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