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HP Software's community for IT leaders // September 2012

Autonomy polices constabulary’s data

British police force turns to IDOL to draw insight from disparate data systems.

While business leaders are always concerned about understanding—and reacting quickly to—changing conditions, law enforcement focuses on public safety and saving lives. In the UK, Cheshire Constabulary faced the challenge of reacting quickly to new information without sacrificing the thoroughness of its investigations. With the help of Autonomy IDOL, the force has improved its operational efficiency in all manner of areas, from resourcing on emergency calls to spotting previously unseen patterns in reports of violent crimes.

“IDOL has the amazing ability to spot linking patterns in our information and alert us to them,” says Detective Inspector Stephen Cox of the Force Intelligence Bureau. “This lets us deal with emerging incidents earlier, and has helped us identify connections between seemingly unlinked events, which might not have otherwise been possible.”

Data challenges of modern policing

Cheshire Constabulary serves about 1 million people over nearly 1,000 square miles in North West England. Employing more than 2,000 police constables and over 1,500 support staff, the force has a number of different data sources stored across various repositories. Searching the various repositories was a time-consuming manual process, and because it did not produce a unified set of results, users were unable to get a holistic view of their search enquiries.

To overcome these challenges, the force turned to Autonomy’s IDOL (Intelligent Data Operating Layer) to power its search operations. IDOL is able to form an understanding of information in any format and spot patterns that might not otherwise be readily apparent. The first step was to deploy IDOL in the force’s record management system, Atlas, and the Children and Vulnerable Adults (CAVA) database.

This deployment quickly proved IDOL to be a powerful search tool that could also save time and money, leading to Autonomy’s technology being rolled out across other repositories, including the firearms registry, the constabulary’s Lotus Notes system and the force intranet. Cheshire Constabulary also created custom interfaces to allow key departments to make optimal use of IDOL’s capabilities.

Smarter and faster

IDOL has improved the force’s ability to spot patterns and connections in incident reports, when previously no individual person had visibility over all the information. IDOL has allowed Cheshire Constabulary to resolve specific incidents such as a series of abandoned emergency calls that were tying up police resources, and quickly identifying a false report of kidnapping. On a day-to-day basis, one department reports that IDOL has slashed the time taken to perform a standard search from the previous average of 90 minutes to just a few seconds.

For full details on how IDOL is helping Cheshire Constabulary, download the case study, “Cheshire Constabulary: Powered by IDOL.” Visit for more information on the power of Autonomy’s meaning-based computing technology.


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