21 October 2002 Knowledge management software vendor Autonomy has won its largest ever contract, a multi-million dollar deal with the US Office of Homeland Security to provide 21 government agencies with software to collate and manage information from emails, voice messages and videos.
The US government set up the Office of Homeland Security following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to coordinate information exchange between the various agencies involved in security. One of the criticisms levelled at the government was that there was evidence of possible attacks on US targets before they took place, but that the agencies had been unable to draw the information together to predict the attacks.
Autonomy’s software will provide more than 200,000 employees with the ability to gather information and then – hopefully – spot dangers by identifying key ideas and words contained in data, before linking them and summarising and delivering a report. “In hindsight, it was easy to say to the government: you knew about this,” said Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch. “But actually, there were probably three million other things they knew about.”
Lynch said Autonomy had landed the deal because of its existing relationships with other US agencies, including the US Army, the space agency NASA and the Department of Labor. “Those agencies were able to give advice about what the problems were that it was facing and what type of technology could be used to help it.”