Investigations with terabytes of data and millions of images

Investigations with terabytes of data and millions of images
7 August, 2017 Anna Borgström

Investigations with terabytes of data and millions of images

The amount of material that law enforcement has to deal with continues to increase. Exactly how large the investigations and cases have become is difficult to say, but the NetClean Report 2016 included some examples. At the most extreme end, police officers reported that the largest cases are an astounding 100 TB, 100 million images and over 100,000 hours of video material.

These figures refer to all the material in a seizure that law enforcement have to go through to identify the relevant material. But as the total amount of material in a seizure increases, so too does the amount of child sexual abuse material. In the report, INTERPOL shared that their largest case was of 40 TB of child sexual abuse material.

Johann Hofmann, Head of Griffeye, sheds further light on this development:

An explosion of material

It is incredible how the amount of data in circulation has increased in recent years. The development of mobile phones, combined with stable and fast internet connections and the ability to store large amounts of data, means that it has become extremely easy for anyone to produce, distribute and save images and videos in large quantities. Every year, the amount of material that police officers need to efficiently process and analyse in their investigations increases, not just in child sexual abuse investigations, but in many other crimes.

We know that law enforcement agencies around the world deal with unbelievable amounts of material, but I must admit that even I was surprised when I saw the numbers in the biggest cases. 100TB of data, over 100 million images and over 100,000 hours of video is unimaginable amounts of material. Having to go through the material manually would be an impossible task.

Handling these investigations requires a variety of technologies and tools, and I am happy to see a lot of development in this area. A strong trend, (which is extremely important for workflow processes), is that increasing numbers of technology providers are opening up their tools to collaboration, using standardised data protocols for sharing information, instead of trying to lock the user to a single tool provider. This allows police officers to move information and data between the different tools, to simplify their work processes.

Project VIC, (co-founded by NetClean), is a great example of the success that can be achieved through a combination of technology, training and collaboration.

The amount of material will only continue to increase in the future. It is driven by the technology development allowing for more ways to distribute and store material. An equally, if not more important, factor is that as better internet infrastructures develop in new parts of the world, we will start to see an explosive growth of production and distribution of material in those countries too. However, more information does not have to mean chaotic investigations. With the right tools, information is a valuable asset enabling greater success in every case.


Griffeye is NetClean’s peer company. Griffeye develops Griffeye Analyze, one of the world’s premier platforms for building intelligence through processing and analysing large quantities of images and videos. It is used by law enforcement agencies across the world to uncover critical clues, find relationships and visualise information that would normally have been hidden in the vast flow of data seized on a daily basis.