By: Wes Huang, Praescient Analytics Intern
“We help catch bad guys,” responded CEO Katie Crotty as she explained to me some of the main work and services provided by Praescient Analytics.
Preparing for my 2017 summer internship at Praescient Analytics, I looked forward to helping with administrative work, conducting research projects, and perhaps witnessing how their analysts and engineers tackle investigative and technical challenges for their clients. Little did I know I would have the opportunity to be exposed to (and use!) IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook (ANB), the globally-recognized industry standard tool for intelligence analysis. I had briefly heard of ANB while reading a news article about Army internal investigations, but now got to see its ability firsthand under the guidance of two veteran Praescient analysts, Brenna and Neil. The training course took four days, with one half focused on the core capabilities of ANB and the latter half dedicated to its advanced functions.
As each day progressed, the power and benefits of ANB to any sort of investigation became clearer. On the first day, we initially went over the terminology of ANB (entity vs semantic type, for example) and began creating simple analysis charts based on information from a particular kidnapping case. By the last day, I was able to import complex information on financial payment fraud and create concise and presentable visual illustrations that could assist a local law enforcement agency in its investigation.
I personally enjoyed the hands-on approach of the Praescient trainers. Brenna and Neil displayed immense patience and care for a person such as myself with little to no experience in advanced analysis tools. Through their expert coaching, by the end of the 4-day course I was able to perform a number of advanced functions such as using geospatial analysis to track down the location of the leader behind a notional crime organization. In addition to the excellent trainers, we worked with a combination of real crime data and realistic nationalized data, which conferred a sense of moral responsibility to using analytic technologies. ANB is not simply a nifty visualization tool, but an integral component of modern crime investigations that deal with real issues and real people.
As a college student who wants to live and work in an environment that protects and serves the larger community, learning ANB was an especially rewarding opportunity for me. It gave me a unique window into how law enforcement and intelligence professionals approach analysis and how they can integrate advanced technology tools into their investigations and mission sets.