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Home Featured Story MIS Professor’s Tech Spinoff Acquired by IBM Corp.

By Liz Warren-Pederson


Dr. Hsinchun Chen

McClelland Professor of MIS Hsinchun Chen is also the director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Crime analytics company i2 — which merged with UA tech spinoff Knowledge Computing Company (KCC) in 2009 — has been acquired by IBM Corp. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

KCC was founded by McClelland Professor of MIS Hsinchun Chen to commercialize the crime-fighting productCOPLINK®, which 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.

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,” explained 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 Tucson Police Department put additional funding into research in data mining.

COPLINK screenshot.

COPLINK uses the very latest neural computer technologies to help speed up the crime detection process and achieve accurate results.
Image courtesy Knowledge Computing Company / i2.

“In 1998, we formed KCC with the blessing of the UA and began to raise investment funding,” Chen said. 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.

A private equity firm bought KCC in 2009 and merged it with British company i2, a provider of intelligence and investigation management software. “It was a very synergistic match,” Chen said. “i2 had excellent visualization and European presence, whereas KCC had excellent technical infrastructure and a stronger presence in the U.S. market.”

“It’s good to see COPLINK® expand into the broader world,” continued Chen. “Today there is more emphasis than ever on faculty making an impact on society through research.”