Information sharing for criminal investigations goes Web 2.0

Online crime investigation service CrimeDex turns toward community-building functionality, video uploads and more

Hudson said they have also improved the search functionality for managers and investigators studying a crime or trying to find similar activities in their area or the nation. Besides improved search criteria, the service has expanded its crime descriptions. When the service launched in 2000, it was primarily focused on counterfeit checks. Now the system supports crime reports on robberies, credit card fraud, shoplifting, organized retail crime and more -- basically the types of crimes that retail and bank security directors would care about.

The CrimeDex system offers free membership to law enforcement professionals, and annual membership for commercial organizations. The membership is based on the company; for example, the bank or retail store joins the system, not simply the individual security director or bank manager. CrimeDex has over a thousand active member organizations, and Hudson said alerts are spread through those organizations, making the total number of people accessing the information number up to the hundreds of thousands. One of the core elements of CrimeDex system has been its database profiles on over 14,000 criminal suspects.

According to CrimeDex, they're already seeing groups wanting to adopt the new features. Besides the adoption of version 2.0 by the Merrimack Valley Financial Crimes Network, the California Financial Crimes Investigators Association (CFCIA) will also be making the switch from CrimeDex 1.0 to the 2.0 version this month.

For Hudson, it's a natural progression to an idea that started 20 years ago.

"I was at a fraud investigators meeting sometime around 1999," explained Hudson. "We were all in a room passing around Xeroxed copies and grainy copies of suspects' photos. It would never cease to amaze me that sometimes institutions were all chasing the same guy, but we didn’t realize we were all chasing the same person. I remember saying, 'Why isn't there a system to help us do this?' That's where the idea for CrimeDex came from."