Detectives perceive an information overload in using social media data in police investigations, because of the abundance of available information, limitations in human processing capacity and problems in human-machine interaction. This results in a possible loss of relevant information that is publically available from the first minute after a crime. The research field of information visualization is especially aimed at making large amounts of data intelligible.

This thesis by Annelies Brands aimed at working towards a Social Media Quick Scan by developing a prototype of a tool that provides visualizations of social media information. The goal was to investigate how interactive visualizations of social media information can support detectives in their work, focusing especially on objective reasoning and human-machine interaction. First, theory on information visualization was reviewed on how available social media information could best be visualized. Next, interviews with police employees were conducted to determine requirements on data insights and functionality.? The results were combined in the design of the tool. A prototype was developed with partially implemented visualizations of data from an example case and evaluated with police employees.

The design was evaluated positively on meeting the requirements and usability, and resulted in a list of suggestions for further development. In this way, this project contributed towards a Social Media Quick Scan that enables detectives to use social media information earlier in police investigations, support reasoning and possibly reduce information overload.

Take a look at a film clip to view how this could work (set the subtitles on):

Take a look at the presentation:

Or download the full report:

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