Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Developing PRISM: V2 is Here

For the past few weeks, the PRISM team has been diligently working to test the new version of PRISM. We are proud to announce that, after months of development, we have finally released PRISM V2. As we discussed in an earlier post, Version 1 was originally developed for internal users. In order to test our features and gain valuable feedback from external users, we launched a Pilot Program with select law enforcement agencies across the US. They found bugs, identified workflow issues, gave valuable critiques, and made feature wish lists, which allowed us to greatly approve upon PRISM in V2. Here are some of the big changes to the tool.

Faster Workflow

As analysts and investigators, we need to be able to more efficiently work throughout a project. Previously, it was cumbersome to search for usernames, scrape data, and build out user profiles. Our analysts and Pilot Program users identified ways to expedite these processes. PRISM now has additional buttons to add profiles, add usernames, edit projects, and upload documents directly from the workbench. This allows users to spend less time clicking between areas of the tool and more time reviewing content.

Improved Exporting & Authentication

Before, PRISM only exported data into Microsoft Word formatted Rich Text (.rtf), Microsoft Excel XML format spreadsheet (.xlsx), and Comma-separated Value Plain Text (.csv) formats. As many of our users have additional needs, we expanded this selection to include Microsoft Access database (.accdb) and Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf) files. All of these files include the MD5 hash values associated with each individual result for authentication purposes.

In addition, users can now download individual search results and native files to their computer in .pdf and Flash Video (.flv) formats. When these files are downloaded, a record of each download is created in an uneditable system log. This log can then be exported into .pdf format and will include information such as the hash value for the content downloaded and which specific result it came from. We added this feature to assist law enforcement agencies with evidence gathering and authentication.

Topic Monitoring

Previously, PRISM was designed as a case management system for individual profiles and groups of individuals. Over the course of testing, we discovered that both our analysts and Pilot Program users desired the ability to search in real-time across social media sites to find information about topics pertinent to their projects. In response, we built a topic monitor. Users now have the ability to search real-time content originating from Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. All of these results can be highlighted to showcase important words, filtered down by word exclusion, and saved both within PRISM and locally on the user’s device.

Subscribing to PRISM

Now that PRISM V2 is released, subscriptions are available to all organizations. To learn more about PRISM or to get a demonstration, contact Blake Haase at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 Key Takeaways from the SMILE Conference

It is fall, so it must be conference season. From September through October, members of the PRISM team will be in various locations across the country. Last week, three members of the PRISM team were in Omaha for the SMILE Conference. As we have a great relationship with law enforcement agencies, we thought it was pertinent to share some of the major takeaways from #smilecon.

Law Enforcement Agencies are Successfully Using Social Media

For those of you who are not familiar with SMILE, it is a conference at which law enforcement agencies network with one another and share best practices regarding the use of social media in law enforcement, from both a marketing and investigative perspective. It allows these agencies to learn new, innovative ways to harness the power of social media to build relationships with the community and combat crime. Throughout the conference, many speakers discussed how their agencies are successfully using social media to keep tabs on known offenders, curtail gang activity, monitor events, respond to disasters, and conduct undercover investigations. Officer Eric Draeger of the Milwaukee Police Department spoke about his department’s success doing a multitude of those things at once: They successfully use social media to disrupt gang activity and prevent incidents from occurring at large public gatherings.

Data Fusion is Imperative

As we wrote about from our experience at the i2 User Conference, agencies are integrating a variety of data sources into their process. With the proliferation of social media activity, law enforcement agencies now understand the fundamental need to incorporate social media data into their day-to-day operations. Social media records are now combined with traditional investigative data to conduct more thorough investigations. At SMILE, many agencies reported impressive results using social media information in their investigative processes.

Tools are a Must

In order to conduct social media monitoring and investigations, law enforcement agencies need tools. Nearly every presenter at SMILE was using some form of tool to assist them with the investigative process. The amount of readily available social media data is unfathomable and can be extremely overwhelming. Investigators and analysts must rely on tools to assist them with harvesting, processing, and analyzing social media data. Otherwise, they would be inundated with records and have difficulty making timely analyses.


Every time we go to a conference, we learn something new that allows us to improve our products and services for our clients. SMILE was no exception. We have been following trends of the use of social media, embracement of data fusion, and need for social media tools in law enforcement for some time now. It is one of the main reasons we developed PRISM. Both the i2 User Conference and SMILE reinforced our use of social media, data fusion, and PRISM in our investigative process.

About CES PRISM Blog

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The CES PRISM blog is the place where CES shares the newest developments in social media sites and tools, data analytics, eDiscovery, investigations, and intelligence. We will also share workflow tips and tricks, case studies, and the developmental progress of our open source social media research and analysis tool, PRISM. Our goal is to open a dialogue with the community which allows all of us to learn together.