Visual Notebook also includes an integrated e-mail tool that you can use to send an electronic chart to others who can view it with their free copy of i2's Chart Reader software. This is especially helpful when working on multijurisdictional task forces or when crossing other jurisdictional boundaries.
The following is an example of how an investigator might use Visual Notebook.
Our case is identity theft. It started when the suspect found personal information about the victim that was carelessly discarded. Our resourceful suspect took the info and used it to obtain credit cards in our victim's name. The suspect, who was identified later from a bank ATM photo, was linked to a multitude of events involving the credit cards he obtained using the fraudulent applications.
OK, that's our case. Now let's present it in Visual Notebook. First, we drop a picture of the suspect right into our Visual Notebook workspace. Now we link his fraudulent applications and a handful of his illegal transactions. By linking lines, we can easily see the relationships, dates, times, and amounts of the unauthorized transactions. If multiple suspects, banks, accounts, and transactions are involved, we can show relationships by drawing lines and linking information in a visual diagram that can be easily understood by anyone.
Visual Notebook also helps us organize our investigation by helping us keep the witnesses straight. Each witness who can ID our bad guy is linked to each specific event, avoiding confusion as to who knew what, when, or why.
Another great aspect of Visual Notebook is its flexibility. As our investigation expands into multiple suspects and complexity, our chart grows with a simple drag-and-drop from any investigators assigned to the case. If it continues to develop into an organized crime case, different levels of law enforcement having jurisdictional issues could easily integrate into the chart.
Let's say our simple identity theft has turned into a multijurisdictional nightmare. No matter. We can import our Visual Notebook chart right into i2's more powerful Analyst Notebook where additional tools can be used to search and share nationwide online databases, create timeline charts, and link to other department resources. All of these graphics can be easily followed and understood by the 65-year-old grandmother sitting in juror's
i2 understands that our society has become more visual in the collection, interpretation, and comprehension of the facts surrounding a criminal case. Storyboarding or visualization is just a graphical outline of what happened first, next, and last. Sometimes images rather than words help us to understand the whole event just by linking things together with lines.
You've heard it before, "...a picture is worth a thousand words." Depicting the elements of an incident, a complex criminal organization, a money-laundering scheme, or a homicide through visual presentation can have a tremendous impact on your intended audience, the jury. And that makes the graphics created by Visual Notebook priceless.
Bob Davis supervises the San Diego Police Department's computer lab. He has 26 years of experience on the force.