Crime lab analysts can use our system on a tablet or PC wherever they are, because it’s based on the AWS Cloud. They no longer have to sit down at a desk and try to fill out worksheets. 
Ryan Parthemore Founding Partner, PDEvidence
  • About PDEvidence

    PDEvidence provides web-based barcode evidence, laboratory, and property management solutions. Created by law enforcement professionals, the company offers solutions that streamline and automate the management of evidence and laboratory gathering and processing.

  • AWS Services Used

  • Benefits Realized

    • Automates crime laboratory evidence management and reporting
    • Enables data sharing between regional offices and agencies
    • Helps get criminals off the street faster
    • Saves money for taxpayers

When police departments are trying to solve crimes, they rely on experts at crime laboratories to track, analyze, and report on the evidence. Whether it’s collecting and analyzing DNA, weapons, or data stored on electronic devices, crime labs play a critical role in bringing criminals to justice.

However, many crime labs struggle to efficiently track and report on evidence because they use manual, time-consuming, paper-based processes. Labs also often lack efficient methods of sharing data across local agencies. The Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit dealt with both problems. The unit, which employs regional workers in all corners of the state, manages evidence submissions from municipal police departments, state police barracks, as well as federal partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. However, the organization used spreadsheets to track submissions, and each region took a different approach to reporting. “Different regions had different levels of in-house forms they have come up with over the years. Their reporting structure wasn't completely standardized, and the review process was challenging,” says Ryan Parthemore, founding partner of PDEvidence, a Technology Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN). PDEvidence provides digital laboratory and evidence management solutions for law enforcement.

Without a better solution for the secure sharing of data across police agencies and with federal agencies, the state agency was unable to do its job in the most effective way.

 

PDEvidence was founded to address the data challenges facing organizations like the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit. The organization’s Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS) solution helps law enforcement organizations digitize lab evidence to reduce manual, error-prone processes and enable easier data sharing. From day one, PDEvidence solutions have been based on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “AWS was the only logical solution for us because of the features that we ultimately deployed. AWS provided us with everything that we needed in terms of easy scalability and reliability,” Parthemore says.

PDEvidence chose to offer its solutions via the AWS GovCloud (US), which is approved for sensitive Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) workloads that are critical to public safety. The AWS GovCloud (US) Region helps law enforcement agencies follow CJIS Security Policy by providing secure processing tools and storage that meet the FBI’s requirements for accessing this mission-critical information. The AWS GovCloud (US) Region is isolated from other AWS regions and was designed to allow government agencies to move sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements. “That’s what allows PDEvidence to address the compliance needs of our customers,” states Parthemore.

The PDEvidence LIMS uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to ensure scalability. “We deal with police departments and crime laboratories that might have five people, and we deal with those with far more. The ability for us to scale up or down to meet these needs is critical,” says Parthemore. PDEvidence uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for encrypted storage of photos and other digital evidence. The organization is also exploring Amazon Rekognition for image and video analysis. “Using Amazon Rekognition, we can run crime scene photos through an API, and the service returns a list of tags,” says Parthemore. “This provides access to indexed, searchable image data, so customers can more quickly locate a specific item in a crime scene photo, for example.”

By using the PDEvidence LIMS, crime labs and police departments have automated, centralized evidence-management and reporting capabilities. The Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit, for example, uses PDEvidence to manage thousands of digital evidence items for forensic analysis. No matter where they are working, the unit’s regional crime lab investigators can quickly enter evidence into the system from a PC, phone, or tablet. Investigators can package and apply a barcode to the evidence, which is then automatically available to workers in one of the unit’s regional offices. “Crime lab analysts can use our system on a tablet or PC wherever they are, because it’s based on the AWS Cloud,” Parthemore says. “They no longer have to sit down at a desk and try to fill out worksheets. As they’re measuring or analyzing evidence, they’re recording their results in real time into the system, and reports are automatically generated. The Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit can now easily view the status of investigations right away.”

PDEvidence’s automated evidence management makes forensic analysts at the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit more productive, because they no longer rely on data stored on on-premises systems at individual agencies. As a result, analysts can take on more cases and potentially help solve more crimes. “If we can shorten lab analysis turnaround times by enabling analysts to do their work faster and gather data in real time instead of relying on paper forms, that could help shorten the amount of time criminals are on the streets,” says Parthemore. “Police departments might be able to get a perpetrator of child exploitation off the streets in three or six months instead of a year or longer, as an example.”

Using the PDEvidence solution, the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit has, for the first time, transferred the cost of its work from the taxpayer to the convicted criminal. If a defendant is found guilty by the court, or pleads guilty, an invoice based on the specific work performed in the case can be automatically generated from the PDEvidence LIMS. It can then be attached to that defendant's fines and costs by court order. In fact, in just over four months’ time, the PA State Police has saved taxpayers nearly $90K. PDEvidence LIMS also helps states save money on software licensing. Instead of purchasing LIMS software licenses for each examiner’s workstation, agencies can eliminate licensing costs because the PDEvidence LIMS can be accessed from any web browser and data can be easily shared.“

PDEvidence anticipates using Amazon Rekognition to give its customers additional technology tools. “If an investigator needs to review hundreds of crime scene photos, and they’re searching for a red car or a gun or a suspect’s jacket, all that information will be easily indexed and searchable because of the image and video-recognition capabilities of Amazon Rekognition,” states Parthemore. “We see this technology as another way we can help our customers solve crimes.”

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