Purdue University Graduate School


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posted on 2023-08-04, 21:10 authored by Mohammad Meraj MirzaMohammad Meraj Mirza

Technological advances have a profound impact on people and the world in which they live. People use a wide range of smart devices, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smartphones, and wearable devices, on a regular basis, all of which store and use location data. With this explosion of technology, these devices have been playing an essential role in digital forensics and crime investigations. Digital forensic professionals have become more able to acquire and assess various types of data and locations; therefore, location data has become essential for responders, practitioners, and digital investigators dealing with digital forensic cases that rely heavily on digital devices that collect data about their users. It is very beneficial and critical when performing any digital/cyber forensic investigation to consider answering the six Ws questions (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, and how) by using location data recovered from digital devices, such as where the suspect was at the time of the crime or the deviant act. Therefore, they could convict a suspect or help prove their innocence. However, many digital forensic standards, guidelines, tools, and even the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cyber Security Personnel Framework (NICE) lack full coverage of what location data can be, how to use such data effectively, and how to perform spatial analysis. Although current digital forensic frameworks recognize the importance of location data, only a limited number of data sources (e.g., GPS) are considered sources of location in these digital forensic frameworks. Moreover, most digital forensic frameworks and tools have yet to introduce geo-contextualization techniques and spatial analysis into the digital forensic process, which may aid digital forensic investigations and provide more information for decision-making. As a result, significant gaps in the digital forensics community are still influenced by a lack of understanding of how to properly curate geodata. Therefore, this research was conducted to develop a transdisciplinary framework to deal with the limitations of previous work and explore opportunities to deal with geodata recovered from digital evidence by improving the way of maintaining geodata and getting the best value from them using an iPhone case study. The findings of this study demonstrated the potential value of geodata in digital disciplinary investigations when using the created transdisciplinary framework. Moreover, the findings discuss the implications for digital spatial analytical techniques and multi-intelligence domains, including location intelligence and open-source intelligence, that aid investigators and generate an exceptional understanding of device users' spatial, temporal, and spatial-temporal patterns.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Computer and Information Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Umit Karabiyik

Additional Committee Member 2

Marcus K. Rogers

Additional Committee Member 3

Baijian Yang

Additional Committee Member 4

Tathagata Mukherjee