Eliciting requirements for improvements across a range of topics and domains, while dealing with a diverse group of stakeholders always poses challenges and obstacles. However; when you involve different countries and varied personas with experience fluctuations – things get even more demanding! 

This is the exact problem that Work Package 1 (WP1) of FORMOBILE has been wrestling with since the start of the project. Thankfully ZITiS, the leader of WP1, was aware of the complexities from the beginning, and they were under no illusion that it would be straightforward.

The awareness of the magnitude of the task prepared them well for the most recent obstacles, which involved providing six countries around Europe with identical packs containing multiple mobile phones, all populated with matching dummy-data. The purpose of this laborious task was to provide mobile forensic experts in various offices with a challenge. Specifically, a ‘ring-trial’ that is helping define the current level of expertise across several areas with the hope of supporting the future improvement plans of FORMOBILE; namely, tools, standards and training – the 3 three objective areas of FORMOBILE.

WP1 mobile preparation work for ring trial

The ring trial was prepared following the requirements and needs of LEAs elicited earlier in the project, through a very detailed questionnaire. (Read about that here) The questionnaire was completed by various experts across Europe, with significant input from Germany, Norway and the UK - countries considered by many to be helping lead the way in mobile forensics.

The confidential report to the EU commission, prepared by WP1, showed some of the captured results. Most importantly, the data gathered helped ZITiS develop a more tailored ring trial with an ambition to measure the competency level of several countries and set a baseline for the project. FORMOBILE are not looking to compare countries against one another, but to better understand the capabilities and identify weak points that can be exploited through the efforts of other work packages, thus allowing the gaps to be bridged. Namely through the efforts of:

  1. Technological improvements – WP4-6
  2. A specific standard or good practice guide relating to mobile forensics – WP3
  3. Dedicated training for law enforcement and others involved in the mobile phone investigation chain – WP7

The ring trial itself required an enormous amount of effort to design, prepare and pack the parcels for each country – not to mention the complexities relating to sending the boxes. (NB it is not possible to send battery power banks via post in Germany). This involved simultaneously populating many phones with fake, dummy data. This is a manual process and required physical input, mirroring typical behaviour one can expect from the use of a phone.

The ring trial is now underway, and the local teams are working on the challenges and will complete their efforts in the coming weeks.

If you want to stay up to date with what is happening in FORMOBILE, please join our database. Depending on your own experience, there may also be an opportunity for you to get involved - read more here.