“KCC was a spinoff from the University with local funding involved,” says Chen. “So the sale is nice closure for me on the project.”
COPLINK® is a software product that allows law enforcement agencies to draw information from multiple databases and identify associations between crimes. COPLINK® supports over 3,000 jurisdictions nationwide, spanning 20 states and four of the nation’s five largest cities.
The private equity firm that purchased KCC merged it with i2, a provider of intelligence and investigation management software. The combined company, headed by KCC CEO Robert Griffen, will be known as i2.
“It’s a very synergistic match,” Chen says. “i2 has excellent visualization and European presence, whereas KCC has excellent technical infrastructure and a stronger presence in the U.S. market.”
Chen began working on the COPLINK® project in 1995 at the request of the Tucson Police Department. “They put $1.2 million in initial funding into the project,” explains Chen. “They wanted a tool to use right away, but we also looked at ways to expand operations and make it scalable for other law enforcement agencies.” They developed a consortium of users, and the National Science Foundation put additional funding into research in data mining.
“In 1998, we formed KCC with the blessing of the UA and began to raise investment funding,” Chen says. After the internet bubble burst, many of the company’s competitors fell by the wayside. KCC raised additional capital and began to earn press recognition for its successes, most prominently when COPLINK® helped identify the gunmen in the October 2002 Beltway sniper attacks.
“It’s good to see COPLINK® expand into the broader world,” says Chen, who shepherded the project through commercialization before bringing University-developed technologies to the market was a priority. “There were a lot of hoops to jump through,” Chen says, “but the MIS department and the College were always supportive. Today there is more emphasis than ever on faculty making an impact on society through research.”
Learn more about management information systems research at the Eller College.