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updated: 4/18/2014 6:12 AM

IU researcher helps Italian police fight crime

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Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University researcher is helping Italian police fight crime by analyzing the patterns of mobile phone calls.

Post-doctoral researcher Emilio Ferrara's method dissects digital phone traces obtained by Italian police through court warrants, looking for spikes in activity that often accompany criminal activity.

The system uses phone calls to identify possible criminal organizations. Then it identifies network members and allows researchers to infer their interactions and hierarchy.

Ferrara and associates from the University of Messina have already assisted Italian police with investigations into murder, bribery, robbery, drug trafficking and prostitution.

Ferrara says even short calls can be important if they shed light on how the organization operates.

Ferrara is a researcher at IU's Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research.

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