Hansken Academy in full development

There has been an increasing demand for training in working with the Hansken data-analysis platform. ‘The Hansken data-analysis platform has become an almost indispensable tool for searching large amounts of digitally seized data,’ says Hans Henseler, Senior Advisor Digital Forensics at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). To meet this demand, the international group of search engine users has set up the Hansken Academy, which will offer an international training programme. This programme will start in 2022.

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The Hansken Academy was announced at the third edition of the Hansken Community Days, a conference for international users of the search engine to exchange knowledge. The conference was attended by almost 100 participants from 10 different countries.

The NFI developed the first version of Hansken in 2012. Since then, many thousands of criminal investigators at home and abroad have been trained to work with the search engine, and its use has become ever more widespread, both nationally and internationally. ‘It is expected that the demand for the training – also in other languages – will increase further in the future,’ Henseler believes.

Training for users, judges, lawyers and prosecutors

The training offer will be outsourced to professional providers, including market parties, that will operate under the supervision of the Hansken Academy. The first Hansken Academy training courses will be offered from the beginning of 2022. According to Henseler, the offer will include courses for beginners and advanced users, but also for lawyers, prosecutors and judges: ‘These parties will come into contact with Hansken when a judge gives them access to digital evidence. In such cases, knowing how to work with Hansken will come in handy.’ The Academy will provide a central Hansken training environment that students can use to practice with fictitious digital data, both during and after a course.

Education committee to monitor quality

An education committee comprised of repreentatives from the Hansken Community will monitor the training courses to ensure that they are of a consistently high quality. It will also be responsible for any necessary innovation of the curriculum. ‘Hansken’s development never stops, because digital data carriers such as telephones also continue to develop. This means that the training curriculum must be kept up to date at all times,’ says Henseler.

Innovation of Hansken set to continue

Although the NFI developed Hansken, it will mainly focus on forensic innovations to the search engine over the coming years. Edwin Rijgersberg, Forensic Data Scientist at the NFI, gave a talk at the Hansken Community Days about the use of the latest deep learning techniques in Hansken. The platform already uses artificial intelligence (AI), for example to recognise photos of shipping containers. Thanks to deep learning, the platform will gain features familiar from Google Image Search: the system will learn to match images with words, allowing investigators to search the ever-growing number of images in investigations ever more intelligently.