Tool to Rank Digital Evidence Needs for Criminal Justice Agencies

The report Digital Evidence and the U.S. Criminal Justice System: Identifying Technology and Other Needs to More Effectively Acquire and Utilize Digital Evidence, by RAND and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), presents digital evidence needs developed and prioritized during the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Digital Evidence workshop. As part of that effort, the workshop attendees helped determine the key priorities for digital evidence collection and associate the relevance of those priorities with digital evidence problems and needs.

Opinions can differ about the importance of different policy goals. Using information drawn from the report findings, the interactive tool for ranking digital evidence needs allows users to prioritize the needs for themselves, based on their own views of the importance of different goals.

Use the Digital Evidence Needs Tool

How Can This Tool Help Stakeholders?

Law enforcement agencies face increasingly complex tasks and challenges today. It is important, therefore, to identify opportunities where changes in tools, technology, practices, or approaches can help agencies respond more effectively to solve problems and mitigate risks in their role to protect the public. Given resource constraints, setting priorities among many possible innovations is necessary. The PERF/RAND report evaluated digital evidence needs based on practitioners who participated in the NIJ digital evidence workshop. This interactive tool allows users to leverage the research in the report and also to see how the identified needs would change, based on their own policy and/or organizational priorities.

What Exactly is this Tool?

The interactive tool for ranking digital evidence innovations can be used by criminal justice professionals, policy makers, or interested members of the public to identify the highest priority needs informed by their own views of the goals and missions of criminal justice agencies. By changing the relative importance of different goals, the user can see how digital evidence needs are reprioritized.

What Can Stakeholders Learn from this Tool?

By adjusting priority rankings, the tool allows users to:

  • View the relationship among and the priority of specific problems;
  • Identify which of the digital evidence innovation options are most valuable to them based on their policy preferences;
  • Obtain information that serves as a launch point to investigate new tools, practices, and technologies.

How to Use the Tool

This tool allows users to view how the results would change if the relative importance of the digital evidence goals were different. Users can increase or decrease the weight given to the different goals using the Adjust Ranking Priorities slider bars (left is lower relative importance, right is higher) and the digital evidence needs will move up and down, with the highest ranked needs appearing at the top.

The default priority levels give equal weight to every goal. The user can return to the default priority levels by reloading the page or clicking the Reset Sliders button that will appear at the bottom of the Adjust Ranking Priorities slider bars list after ranking priorities are adjusted.

Tool Functionality Examples

Default priority levels

The default priority levels represent equal rankings of five distinct goals of related to digital evidence collection and use by criminal justice agencies.

The default priority levels represent equal rankings of five distinct goals of related to digital evidence collection and use by criminal justice agencies.

Reprioritization of goals

When the user reprioritizes the levels, he/she can see detailed information about specific problems and needs.

When the user reprioritizes the levels, he/she can see detailed information about specific problems and needs.

Use the Digital Evidence Needs Tool

Funding for this tool and the supporting report was provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

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