Most digital evidence for crime investigation includes a geospatial component. Location data comes from sources such as smartphones, tablets, navigation systems, digital cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), and any location aware device. Cellular Technology and Forensics (CTF) geographic data plays a crucial role in crime investigation, from helping to track suspects, profiling serial offenders, to recognizing trends in criminal activities. Maptitude supports many analytical methods and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools that allow investigators to extract, analyze, and visualize cell phone forensics data.
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Thousands of wireless phone provider cell towers (mobile sites) form wireless (cellular) networks that provide cell phone customers with cellular service. Each cell tower has a different number of antennas that send radio signals in different directions. The site that a cell phone is within range of, when sending a text message or making a phone call, records information in the phone carrier's database. This data can be used to map the general position of where a phone call or text message was placed, the called numbers, the duration of phone conversations, the date and time of the call or text, and the tower's latitude and longitude.
Cell phone mapping data is frequently used in criminal cases to establish who was in a specific place at a specific time. Companies such as Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular create Call Detail Records (CDRs) that are typically obtained via subpoena. Compared to cell phones, CDRs record less information and that makes them easier for legal counsel to access. Several factors influence the location accuracy of CDRs, including network tower density and geographic region. When there are many cell towers the phone location could even be narrowed down to city blocks.