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Icologiq Universe applies structure to Cold Case Research

Cold Cases are police cases that were put away years ago as a result of research getting stuck. The difference with “normal” police investigation is that cold case researchers only use open sources. This method of investigation is also known as OSINT (Open Source Intelligence). Saxion student Vera Kamphuis has looked into the structured approach of conducting cold case research, using No-Code Software platform Icologiq Universe.

02/09/2020

Last year, you could read on our website how Saxion students Savannah and Sten focused on breathing new life into these cold cases during their minor, in collaboration with the police. Vera Kamphuis, a Forensic Research student, has now continued this project. For her internship at the Advanced Forensic Technology department of Saxion Enschede, she dedicated herself to setting up a protocol for applying cold case research from public sources – an assignment set up in collaboration with the Police Academy. This way, all researchers engaged in cold case research can follow the same research structure for their cases.

Over the past six months, she not only drew up an extensive protocol for this, but also built a detailed step-by-step plan in Universe – without a need for specific IT-knowledge. She shows what this schedule looks like in the application. The first step in this scheme is to select the cold case, followed by the research model and method, as you can see in the model below.

Hypotheses

Vera explains how the research process works. “Students start by brainstorming to draw up a number of hypothetical scenarios,” she says. “Every scenario is written down, regardless of how relevant it is. This brainstorming can take places in different ways, for example in the form of a mind map, which can be recorded in Universe as well. We also determine the solvability: based on a number of questions, we determine the possibility of this case getting resolved. For example, if a murder with a knife has taken place, then we investigate how big the chance is that the perpetrator knew the victim.”

The next step involves the victimology: gathering information about the victim through desk research. Vera shows how she has built a number of steps in Universe, asking questions about the situation. This includes the current and past relationships of the victim, their activity on social media and their friends and acquaintances. The victim’s appearance is looked into as well: for example, it is asked whether there are any striking features such as tattoos and scars. There is also an option to add information about the victim’s work, financial situation and spare time.

Verification and falsification

“The information collected here can be used later by the researcher, to verify and falsify scenarios,” Vera explains. “The guideline is to find as much information as possible and to record everything in Universe. Whenever a new clue comes in, we need to look at how it affects the investigation. Does the new information make a particular scenario more or less likely? This way, some of the scenarios can also be dropped during the study.” The model also refers back to desk research at each step. “In case you find out that you do not yet have enough information to determine something, then you have to go through the entire process of desk research again.”

Substantiation is very important here. “For each research question you must explain how you obtained the information and which sources you consulted.” She shows that there is also an option to add the different sources, along with an explanation of why the new information verifies or falsifies a scenario. “Based on all this information, you can eventually conclude which hypothesis is most likely – ofcourse with a substantiation.”

About Icologiq Universe

Icologiq Universe enables researchers to build applications, even without coding experience. The No-Code technology allows students to move beyond Excel and Word, making the research process faster and more effective.

With Universe, students and forensic investigators within this project can continuously maintain control over the entire investigation process and monitor the quality. The system offers the user the possibility to set it up according to their preference and to make adjustments in a simple manner.

More information about Cold Case Research in Universe

With Icologiq Universe you can make your research run smoothly and clearly. Would you like to know how Icologiq Universe can also speed up your research process? More information about Universe can be found on the website.