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Book him, Sherlock

Try as hard as it could, Scotland Yard Scotland Yardwas unable to prove the identity of that most nefarious criminal, Jack the Ripper, whose series of grisly deeds terrorized London from 1888 to 1891.

But perhaps if police officers had been able to use today's technology to search for and handle information and evidence, they might have been more successful in apprehending the infamous murderer.

Just as in the days of Jack the Ripper, Scotland Yard's mission is to bring criminals to justice and to enable citizens to feel protected and safe. Now, however, Scotland Yard detectives are aided by sophisticated search engines and data mining tools, by knowledge management software and Web-based business intelligence solutions.

Most recently, Scotland Yard has chosen a collaborative intranet-based solution to improve access to and management of case files. It will use the Livelink e-business application and Basis library automation component of Livelink--both from Open Text--to share case files and other records across the police organization.

Police will gain online access to more than 600,000 case files, which occupy more than nine miles of shelf space at a file repository in West London. By implementing the system, Scotland Yard will extend its information base into a collaborative knowledge network and expects to save $2.4 million over the next five years.

With the old system, officers could only access case files and records from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, using limited searching capabilities to locate relevant files. Systems integrator Linkhand Linkhand worked with Open Text to customize the software to develop a searchable, scalable database to index headline information from the case files and records. The new database will support more detailed search strings, producing more finely tuned results in seconds, narrowing the search results to include only relevant files.

According to Alan Oakley, chief registrar and departmental record officer at Scotland Yard, the new system will "provide officers and support staff with a much faster, more efficient method of tracking down case papers, which often contain information that will help in new investigations. The system will enable more precise search results, ultimately enabling officers to investigate crimes more effectively.

"It will also contribute toward achieving considerable cost savings and improved accountability through good records management."

Officers will have 24-hour access, regardless of location, to the online database via the Scotland Yard intranet, giving them immediate access to an index of existing case files and other records.

The desired outcome: capturing criminals.

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