CrimeNet explorer: A framework for criminal network knowledge discovery

Jennifer J. Xu, Hsinchun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Knowledge about the structure and organization of criminal networks is important for both crime investigation and the development of effective strategies to prevent crimes. However, except for network visualization, criminal network analysis remains primarily a manual process. Existing tools do not provide advanced structural analysis techniques that allow extraction of network knowledge from large volumes of criminal-justice data. To help law enforcement and intelligence agencies discover criminal network knowledge efficiently and effectively, in this research we proposed a framework for automated network analysis and visualization. The framework included four stages: network creation, network partition, structural analysis, and network visualization. Based upon it, we have developed a system called CrimeNet Explorer that incorporates several advanced techniques: a concept space approach, hierarchical clustering, social network analysis methods, and multidimensional scaling. Results from controlled experiments involving student subjects demonstrated that our system could achieve higher clustering recall and precision than did untrained subjects when detecting subgroups from criminal networks. Moreover, subjects identified central members and interaction patterns between groups significantly faster with the help of structural analysis functionality than with only visualization functionality. No significant gain in effectiveness was present, however. Our domain experts also reported that they believed CrimeNet Explorer could be very useful in crime investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-226
Number of pages26
JournalACM Transactions on Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Clustering
  • Complete-link algorithm
  • Concept space
  • Crime investigation
  • Knowledge discovery
  • Law enforcement
  • Multidimensional scaling
  • Precision and recall
  • Social network analysis
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Computer Science Applications


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