Holly Ryan

Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Digital tool helps catch criminals

Metropolitan Police in London use Wynyard's crime-solving technology. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Metropolitan Police in London use Wynyard's crime-solving technology. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland-based Wynyard Group has launched an upgraded version of its criminal analytics technology, developed in association with New Zealand police.

The Digital Evidence Investigator processes information contained on confiscated digital devices, locating evidence and analysing it.

The technology also highlights people and places of interest and provides clear information and breakdown of data for law enforcement officials.

A version of the technology is already used in the UK, United States, Australia and other countries to link crimes within law enforcement databases and analyse data from a number of different devices.

Saya Wahrlich, vice president of global marketing for Wynyard, said the number of digital devices seized in investigations was growing rapidly.

Wahrlich noted that previous analytical technology was time consuming and required trained staff.

"We understand that in some large cities there are more than 50,000 devices lawfully seized each year and with the increasing number of smartphone users this number continues to grow," she said.

New Zealand police E-Crime Group manager, Kelly Knight, agreed, saying devices such as the Digital Evidence Investigator were increasingly important for law enforcement agencies.

"The challenge for police is managing the growing quantity of digital exhibits, and the increasing amount of storage each device contains," Knight said.

"The police staff member may be able to review the content of digital devices, bookmark items of interest and prepare for a court appearance without the need for further expert involvement."

The technology allowed any staff member to analyse information, allowing the forensic specialists to focus on more complex cases, where expertise was required.

The technology had been successfully used in a number of cases in New Zealand ranging from child sex offences and drug dealing through to financial crime, Knight said.


Wynyard's Craig Richardson says the technology clusters information. Photo / Sam Frost

According to Wynyard Group chief executive Craig Richardson the main benefit of the technology was the clustering of information, limiting the number of illicit images officials had to view, as well as the speed of analysis. This allowed officials to act on information much faster, and increased the likelihood of a positive outcome in cases.

"Because smartphones are tools of the criminal trade, speed of processing is really important now because time matters," Richardson said. "It might have taken at least a day previously to process a device but now it's down to an hour or two."

The importance of speed was highlighted in a recent case in Southeast Asia, where a suspected paedophile was detained at the border, and the technology was used to quickly identify incriminating evidence on a USB he was carrying. The information led to a location in the country where a number of abused children were being kept, resulting in their release and the arrest of the man in question.

Wynyard Group were number 68 in the TIN100 top technology companies in 2013, with revenue of $21.48 million for the 2013 financial year.

The upgrade is being rolled out across New Zealand police forces.

Speeding up the process

• New Zealand police have been using Wynyard's digital evidence analysis techniques since 2013.

• The upgraded system has reduced analysis time from a few days to one or two hours.

• Law enforcement officials, police and border control are using the technology.

• The technology has been used to aid in solving crimes ranging from financial crime through to child assault and homicide.

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- NZ Herald

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