MODAL can also serve as a hotspot or data storage during use.
Down to the last byte
The mobile data acquisition and analysis laboratory (MODAL) of the NRW State Office of Criminal Investigation is unique in Germany and can be of use wherever data needs to be collected quickly. So actually always.
Streife editorial team

Nicole Schulze-Frieling knows what is important. She opens the door of the Mobile Data Acquisition and Analysis Laboratory (MODAL), which is connected and ready for use in the underground parking garage of the State Office of Criminal Investigation. A sparkling, freshly washed Mercedes Sprinter, packed to the rafters with technology, the pride of the cybercrime team. She turns a switch and the lights change from blue to pink. "That's what particularly impresses the girls," says Schulze-Frieling.

In the field, however, it is the technical highlights that count, because the MODAL vehicle is "a real piece of high-tech and a further building block with which we are countering the digitalization and virtualization of crime", as Interior Minister Herbert Reul said at the presentation of the mobile laboratory at the State Criminal Police Office. "We are ready for action within a very short time and spare no effort," says Nicole Schulze-Frieling, adding that undercover operations are also possible at any time.

Data and data carriers are now the most important investigative tools in many areas of crime. Securing them and making them available as quickly as possible, tracking them down before they are deleted, is a key task for investigators. Not just in the future, but now.

The MODAL is a mobile data center with two extremely powerful servers on which a wide variety of operating systems are installed. It houses three fully functional workstations that are equipped with everything needed to read, analyze and forward data.

"The system is unique in Germany and Europe."

Andreas Arbogast, Detective Superintendent LKA NRW

He and Department 41.2 of the LKA NRW planned and implemented the hardware and software equipment. The MODAL is a milestone in the fight against all types of crime that involve securing data. And nowadays that means almost always.

That is why it is equipped with an impressive memory of almost half a petabyte. "The memory has already served us well, especially when backing up image and video files," says Nicole Schulze-Frieling.

This is regularly the case when combating child pornography. The modern IT forensic tools on board guarantee that the evidence can be assessed in court proceedings in a traceable manner and without any changes.

According to a study by the industry association Bitkom, cyber attacks cause damage to 86% of all companies. In 2022, the digital association predicted that theft, espionage and sabotage would result in a total annual loss of 203 billion euros for the German economy.

And yet, some authorities and investigators are apparently still reluctant to ask the digital task force at the State Office of Criminal Investigation for help. "We would like the individual authorities to approach us more often," says Schulze-Frieling. Her colleague Arbogast adds: "There is still a certain reluctance to call the LKA." But this is completely unfounded. "We see ourselves as a service provider and support for the investigating officers on the ground," he says. And that applies to all investigations, whether they involve child pornography, attacks or major incidents.

Modal can also serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot or data storage device. Arbogast and his colleagues set up in pedestrian zones, for example, so that witnesses can quickly and easily transmit images and videos from their smartphones to the police. Images from surveillance cameras can also be made available to investigators quickly and easily. In the attack at a Duisburg fitness center in April, for example, the use of MODAL was crucial in identifying the perpetrator at an early stage.

The light changes color once again, which Andreas Arbogast uses to point out the coffee machine. "Very popular and has already made many colleagues happy," he says. And perhaps these supposed trivialities are more important than you might initially think

Translated with DeepL.com (pro version)
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