WA Police are turning to AI for digital evidence, hoping to massively reduce investigation times.

WA Police is running a pilot project for a cloud-based artificial intelligence platform to sift through vast piles of digital evidence to make connections that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Perth-based consultancy Modis has put together a platform hosted on Microsoft Azure that can find potential avenues of inquiry and evidence in the information collected during an investigation.

As a test, it has been used to ingest and analyse digital evidence like emails, texts, social media posts, photographs and CCTV footage from policing systems.

Usually, this digital evidence would have been examined by human officers, leading to a risk of contaminating the data.

With an average of over 2.8 terabytes of data now being seized in every case involving digital evidence, the manual approach is quickly becoming too slow.

WA Police’s covert online operations, digital evident operations and cybercrime investigations lead, detective inspector Tim Tomas, said the software can do more in less time.

He said the system can “help us find the important information we don’t’ realise we have”.

DI Tomas said the platform, which uses AI techniques, facial recognition and text and image analytics to accelerate investigations, has already provided productivity and accuracy benefits.

“I’ve seen the Data & AI platform present complex information patterns in minutes, it does things which we just couldn’t do before. I can’t begin to tell you how profound the change is going to be, it truly is the art of the possible,” he said.

The platform can also translate content into English using Azure’s cognitive services, further saving investigation time and avoiding extra costs.

“The Data & AI platform did some language translation in five minutes which, given the ebb and flow which affects all criminal investigations, had previously taken 12 months,” DI Tomas said.

Modis says there has been a 90 percent improvement in productivity during the pilot, cutting digital information activities “down into seconds, minutes or hours rather than spending days, weeks or months doing things”.

DI Tomas said eventually the software may provide entirely new policing abilities.

“We’ll be able to do things like, ‘Show me all of the photographs in police possession taken with this camera, or show me all the information we have which originated at this place. No police agency can currently do these things,” he said.