PICASO | Pen-Link, Ltd.
Pen-Link, Ltd., is a Lincoln-based business that creates and sells software and services, predominantly but not exclusively to law enforcement agencies, to enable the collection and analysis of both live and historic communications data and content for both telephonic (circuit-switched) and Internet (packet-switched) networks. The company started in 1986 with a primary focus on helping local police departments automate the analysis of data from pen registers, but has evolved over time and with the passing of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act ("CALEA") in 1994 into a much more comprehensive solution for automating the collection and analysis of communications data and content from court-ordered historic telephone and internet service provider records, as well as lawful communication interception (wire taps and pen registers), of both telephone and Internet accounts. Reference materials can be found at the following locations:
Pen-Link's core customer base is comprised predominantly of federal law enforcement agencies - e.g. Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Secret Service, United States Marshals, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, among others; as well as State and larger city law enforcement agencies - e.g. various states' "bureaus of investigation" or "state patrols" or "state police departments" and large city police departments. These agencies are predominantly larger, relatively well-funded agencies accustomed and able to afford large capital purchases of software systems. Average system purchases would be in the high tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Management at Pen-Link believes the company has a significant opportunity to broaden its current market, as well as penetrate completely new markets, by developing a cloud-based, software-as-a-service offering and targeting smaller law enforcement agencies and non-law enforcement, "civilian" investigators who may have a need to collect and analyze historic communications data and content as part of their routine investigations. Two primary problems faced by these two groups preventing them from taking advantage of Pen-Link's current offering of software and services are 1) these groups cannot afford Pen-Link's current offering, and 2) these groups do not have the expertise, both in the processes of obtaining subpoenaed and court-ordered communications data, and in the analysis of the data once obtained. The envisioned solution to these problems is a system that will aid smaller law enforcement agency and civilian users in requesting a limited set of subpoenaed and court-ordered communications data from systems providers, load the returned data into our system, and provide a limited set of analysis functionality at a reduced price point – likely on a pay-for-usage model – via a web app.
We believe that in order to make this a successful project, we should focus the Design Studio team on a few steps of the workflow. Specifically, we would like the Design Studio team to focus on the PICASO web front end and the integration with the carriers, rather than the steps of the workflow that integrate PICASO with the existing PLX system. In specific:
- Design/implement the PICASO web application as seen by external users, including:
- User/Account management (signup, view uploaded files, etc.)
- Workflow to upload individual files for analysis
- Workflow to request data from carriers (including attaching subpoenas)
- Design/implement some administration utilities for PICASO (to be used by Pen-Link), including:
- User/Account management (usage, billing, etc.)
- Easy way to add/create new carrier request formats
- Design/implement a stub service to take the place of the PLX API, including
- Accepting a file sent from PICASO (and storing it somewhere)
- Returning some dummy analysis reports to PICASO (to simulate the actions of the API)
PLX is written in C# with an Oracle backend, therefore the PLX API integration must be a C# web service. We are open to discussing the specific technologies used to create the website and backend. We currently feel that Amazon EC2, S3, etc., makes the most sense as the cloud provider for this project; however, we are open to other ideas if the Design Studio team feels another service provider would have advantages.
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