Cell Site and Call Data Analysis

Cell Site Analysis is the technique of placing a Mobile Phone at a particular geographical location at a certain time, and can be accurate to within a few metres. The evidence gained through the analysis of cell sites could make or break a case. Through Extended Call Data Records and Cell Site Analysis, our analysts are capable of producing detailed reports into the likely position and movements of mobile devices up to a few metres.

Mobile and Smartphone usage continues to grow within our day-to-day lives, therefore Cell Sites hold a wealth of information. IntaForensics’ Cell Site team are capable of supporting law enforcement agencies and legal defense teams nationally in the analysis of suspect and/or defense location in the vicinity of a crime. Initial call data analysis allows for in-depth analysis into the suspect or defendants mobile activity at a certain point in time, encompassing SMS data, Call Data, as well as data requests, initially stored by mobile network operators.

Advice For Cell Site Cases

  • Cease Use of the Device – Further use of a mobile phone or tablet means remnants of vital data could be overwritten due to the smaller memory of the device. This is very vital with Cell-Site data, as the connection to cell-site towers forms the basis of this type of investigation.
  • Turn Off the Device – This will prevent the data from being lost completely, and allow you the best chances to obtain your desired results.
  • Call IntaForensics – Whether data analysis, or simple data recovery, IntaForensics are on hand to assist you whatever your problem. We use a combination of analytical experience, knowledge and the latest forensic tools and equipment in order to stand the best chances of obtain the results you require.

The Technical Part:

Cell Site Analysis further supports the analytical processes through establishing times and locations of connected devices in the area covered based on signal strengths at the particular time and signal direction. This data is traditionally held between 6 to 12 months by the network operators with additional capabilities of extracting the deleted and/or overwritten data after this period. This extensive data capabilities able to pinpoint locations of connected devices to ensure factual data is constructed.

The wealth of available data from Cell Sites can prove key in a uncountable number of cases. By working with the UKs leading mobile phone operators (e.g. EE, Vodafone, O2, 3 etc), and local law enforcement, the IntaForensics team are capable of extracting the following data:

Call Data Analysis:

  • Network coverage analysis
  • Suspect location analysis (including proximity to crime)
  • Suspect movement/path analysis

Some network operators produce Extended Call Data Records (ECDR’s), storing information when the mobile makes or receives a call, SMS or the use of GPRS for internet services. These records are only retained for a limited length of time. ECDR’s highlight the particular mast (cell site) to which the phone was connected to at a given time. Using these records, IntaForensics’ cell site experts can produce detailed reports to give the likely positioning and movements of a mobile phone – providing evidence to support whether or not an individual was in the vicinity of the crime.

Using the data provided by the mobile network operators, combined with radio test measurements of the cell masts, our experts could potentially determine the geographical area where a mobile phone has been used.

Cell Site Analysis:

  • Pattern analysis in large call data records
  • Identify associated trends in call records
  • Identify hidden links between suspects

Dependent upon the cell site the mobile phone was connected to at the time; the geographical location can differ greatly between distances of a few metres in a building or built up area, to 30km in very rural areas.

Comprehensive radio measurements can be carried out along a specific route or in a static location. These measure cell site coverage, and take into account atmospheric conditions and obstructions, e.g. buildings. This information forms the basis for producing detailed coverage layouts, where the coverage areas of individual cell sites can be shown.

Please note, the effectiveness and reliability of cell site analysis varies on a number of factors including, movement of the suspect, active cell site range and a number of environmental factors (e.g. topography, weather etc).

Obtaining Call Data Records

The lawful acquisition and disclosure of communications data for law enforcement agencies is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). All Police forces must make a proportionate request for disclosure and would normally only provide information regarding a specific incident.

Service providers may supply call data for defence counsel if the mobile devices has been registered in their clients name during the relevant time period, and if the records still exist. Such requests are dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Data protection Act 1998 (DPA). Otherwise service providers will only provide information regarding calls made or received if a Court Order has been obtained.

Why IntaForensics?

With years of industry experience, technical excellence and a dedicated team, IntaForensics are capable of offering the full range of digital investigation services, and are able to adapt to the unique and individual needs of solicitors, private clients, Law Enforcement Agencies and commercial organisations.

Find Out Why


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