Skype (8) – Big Data

Big Data

Cavendish: Chief Inspector Jones, we have finished with Mrs Conway for the time being but we may need to question her further, I don’t think we need to go as far as detaining her officially but, I am hoping you can keep taps on her from a discreet distance, is that possible?

Jones: absolutely Mr Cavendish, leave it with us and please let me know how we can be of further assistance

Cavendish: Thank you Chief Inspector. We left her in your office, I hope this is okay with you. She may go home as far as we are concerned

Jones: Have you been able to get anything interesting out of her?

Cavendish: Yes and no but nothing for you to be concerned with, Chief Inspector

*****

Jones: Okay Mrs Conway, MI5 say you can go home but, it is only fair to warn you that I will have you tailed from this point on and my advice to you is not to go far from home

Sam: Chief Inspector I need your help, I honestly believe I am in danger, this is why I packed my bag and was about to leave when you people picked me up this morning

Jones: Well, I am happy to help and by having one of my men keeping an eye on you, this will double up as a protection for you; not that I am convinced you are in clear and imminent danger

Sam: Do I have to get shot first for you to be convinced, Chief Inspector?

Jones: Tell me something, why did you fire your lawyer earlier today?

Sam: I don’t have to tell you that, do I?

Jones: No you don’t Mrs Conway but if you did, it might help me help you in the future

Sam: Well, it is simple really. Richard Hall and my husband David are close friends and Richard never seemed perturbed by the disappearance and death of my husband.

Jones: Typical lawyer, cold as a fish but this is hardly grounds for dismissing him so spectacularly

Sam: Yes but there was something more fundamental than that. When the MI5 agent told Richard Hall that I was in possession of millions of company shares he didn’t specify how much exactly. When we spoke in the car park, Richard Hall admonished me for disclosing to the agents I had TWENTY million pounds worth of shares. I never told him the amount, nor did the MI5 agents

Jones: Wait a minute! Are you absolutely sure of that Mrs Conway? No one mentioned the exact amount in front of Mr Hall?

Sam: I am absolutely sure. In any case, Richard Hall’s advice to me was to go on the run after leaving the station today. I am not an idiot Chief Inspector and I will not be hunted down like a rat

Jones: No you are not Mrs Conway, you are anything but an idiot

Sam: Chief Inspector I am willing to cooperate with you in anyway you see fit but I need your protection

Chief Inspector Jones called Constable Appleby and asked her to bring Sam some food and drink and for her to be given a quiet room with comfortable chairs to rest for a while. Sam was grateful for the respite and food.

Inspector Rigsby knocked and entered C.I Jones office without being told to come in.

Rigsby: Ma’am, five bodies were found at the Global Software premises. One of them is believed to be that of Steve McGill, the CEO of the company

Jones: Damn! How can they be so sure, was his body positively identified?

Rigsby: No Ma’am. The body was found in the office where the door, or what remained of it, indicated it was indeed that of the CEO

Jones: Well, it is a proof of some sort but, not a 100% positive proof

Rigsby: No Ma’am

Jones: What about the other bodies?

Rigsby: Too early to say Ma’am

Jones: Any other developments?

Rigsby: Not at this stage but, Constable Appleby is investigating a few things on the Internet, just on the off chance we stumble across something relevant

Jones: Like what, Jack?

Rigsby: I am not sure but technology these days in the hands of youngsters can be powerful, Ma’am

Jones: Call your star constable over, will you Jack?

Rigsby: You mean Constable Appleby?

Jones: How many star constables do you have Jack?

Rigsby: Very well Ma’am

Constable Appleby walked in behind Inspector Rigsby a little red-faced but with an air of quiet confidence about her. She greeted her superior officer correctly and sat down when she was told to. She had an Apple laptop in her hands, which she balanced on her knees as she sat down.

Jones: Constable Appleby, what are you investigating right now?

Appleby: Well Ma’am, I asked Inspector Rigsby if I could have a go at digging some information about Global Software, thinking if it was a criminal attack, it must be to do with the company business otherwise why blow up the entire company?

Jones: Good thinking, go on

Appleby: So, I went on their website to have a look at what they do

Jones: How can you look on their website, they have been blown to Kingdom come last night?

Appleby: I thought there was a chance that their computer servers were in a different location Ma’am; it was worth a try

Jones: Okay, and was it?

Appleby: Yes Ma’am. Their website was still up and running as though nothing had happened

Jones: So, what have you discovered from the website?

Appleby: Well, Global Software seem to be a specialist company who develop only one type of application Ma’am

Jones: And this type of application is…?

Appleby: Big Data Analytics Ma’am

Jones: Constable Appleby, you need to talk in plain English please. “Big Data Analytics” doesn’t do it for me, I don’t even know what “Analytics” means, is it some kind of Americanism that is creeping into our language?

Appleby: Sorry Ma’am. Big Data is just a modern term for large databases such as the National Health Service Records or a mobile telecoms company with millions of clients or an electricity supplier or…

Jones: Okay, okay, I get the idea about Big Data, what about the Analytics bit?

Appleby: Analytics is the term used to describe the complex work carried out on fast and powerful computers to deduct behaviours and patterns in the big data and then come up with trends and stuff

Jones: So, put the two things together and you get a clever software that crunches large amounts of data to tell us lots of people get sick in winter or most youngsters download music on their mobile phones or we consume more electricity in the evenings, right?

Appleby: Yes Ma’am but in a more precise way with graphs and pie charts and so on

Jones: So, why would a company that provides “Big Data Analytics” software have enemies that want to blow it up? Surely we know large organisations do this kind of analysis on all of us all the time

Appleby: This is what I thought Ma’am, but then I went and had a closer look at their applications and found out it had nothing to do with consumer behaviour as such

Jones: No? What did it have to do with then?

Appleby: I am not sure yet but I am close. Also, the funny thing was, nowhere on their website did it list their clients names

Jones: So?

Appleby: Well Ma’am, this kind of software is not cheap, only large corporations can afford to buy it. So, if you have prestigious clients, surely you would want to advertise it on your websites

Jones: Unless your clients would not want you to disclose who they are!

Appleby: Exactly Ma’am

Jones: Constable Appleby, carry on and see what you can dig up on this matter, you might be on to something here. Oh, and well done!

Appleby: Thank you Ma’am

*****

Joanna Appleby, known as “Jo” to her family and friends, made a mistake in the choice of degree she went for as an 18 year old. Journalism sounded interesting and glamorous when she applied to go to university and ended up choosing Southampton simply because that’s where her then boyfriend was studying Computer Graphics. He was one year ahead of her and neither of them could wait for Joanna to arrive. As it turned out, both the Journalism degree and her boyfriend were a waste of time; she fell out of love with both of them before her first Christmas in Southampton. But Joanna was a stoic and determined individual and she made every effort to try and adapt to the course and go through the 3 years it took to get her degree.

When she left university with a respectable 2:1 honours degree she had no intention of working on a local newspaper or some obscure radio station. She wanted to do something more worthy. Someone suggested teacher training post-graduate course but she didn’t have the calling for education. She considered joining a law firm and get her articles by studying part time, but that didn’t appeal either. It was a chance meeting she had with a middle-aged police officer who sat next to her on a flight back from Barcelona that planted the seed of an idea to join the police force.

She was returning from a week’s holiday with an old school friend and the stranger sitting in the aisle seat next to her was in Barcelona representing the London Metropolitan Police Force on some seminar.

Jack Rigsby spoke quietly with dignity and pride, he was not flashy or arrogant. He explained why he enjoyed his job thus: “I enjoy being a policeman because every day I have a chance to make a difference to someone’s life in a positive way.“ He conceded that sometimes the job didn’t seem that way to the onlooker or perhaps the work affected some people negatively, especially if they were being arrested or charged with a crime but to his way of thinking, by removing a criminal from the street, you make a positive difference to all those who might have been his future victims. Joanna found this simple, yet sincere argument quite compelling.

Within a month of this chance encounter, Joanna had her interview for a place at the Police Academy, thanks to her diffident fellow passenger. 4 years later, by pure coincidence she ended up working under Jack Rigsby in London. Inspector Rigsby did not remember Joanna at all but out of politeness said: “Oh yes, that’s right” when she reminded him of their meeting on the BA flight back from Barcelona, but she knew he had forgotten.

Joanna is no longer star struck by Inspector Rigsby, she just looks up to him as an experienced and honest officer who dedicated his life to the police force without being particularly ambitious or status seeker; he leaves this sort of attitude to others to indulge in and he just gets on with the work. Constable Joanna Appleby is quite different. Although she too wants to make a positive difference, she wants to make a “significant” difference rather than in small incremental steps. To her way of thinking, you can only do this by being ambitious and driven to climb up the slippery career ladder all the way to the top.

With that attitude, she had set about accumulating knowledge and experiences wherever she could find them. Many of her less ambitious colleagues thought she was crazy who needs to “get a life”. Constable Appleby volunteered for extra duties, sometimes unpaid; she enrolled on I.T forensic courses to learn about cyber-crime techniques; she walked the beat in rough areas of London to see how petty crimes such as mugging and pick-pocketing worked on the streets; she asked for weekend shift work so she could be on duty during demonstrations and football matches because she wanted to learn about crowd control; she asked to be detailed with the Narcotics Team because she wanted to learn about organised crime; she applied for firearm training and came up top of the class at stationary and dynamic targets. In fact, whenever she heard of something she hadn’t been involved in, she moved heaven and earth to have a go. Her colleagues nicknamed her “Have a Go, Jo”.

Inspector Rigsby came to like the young Constable for her “ready to do hard work” attitude and he saw in her an intelligent mind and instinctive sense of policing. Indeed, she did remind him of Hilary Jones who too joined the force as a youngster and he was detailed to supervise her, only to see her leapfrog him up the ranks. He did not mind that because Hilary Jones was the complete police officer and there was no use avoiding that fact or resisting the force of her ambition. To his credit, he did not get in the way of her rise in the police force and in return, Hilary Jones made sure he was given his due respect from her and all who worked under her.

*****

Using more conventional detective thinking, Chief Inspector Jones and Inspector Rigsby sat down in C.I Jones’ office and brainstormed the case, leaving Constable Appleby to get on with her Cyber research.

Jones: You know Jack, I have a feeling this is not terrorism as such, no one had claimed responsibility, the company is a computer software company, the style of assassination of Rob was not that employed by terrorist organisations, this was professional killing designed to leave no trace behind, something terrorists don’t bother with

Rigsby: I agree Ma’am. This smacks of Mafia style to me. Also, Samantha Conway’s shareholding and directorship of a company she hardly had any direct dealings with, suggests pre-planning to hide something more sinister

Jones: Very true. But why would they choose her of all people? It is too close to be random

Rigsby: The only explanation is that it was done with her husband’s full knowledge and agreement

Jones: Yes but why?

Rigsby: Maybe because he stumbled across some dirty deals and he was blackmailing them

Jones: It’s possible. Or he has always been an accomplice in something very big that may have gone wrong in the last few days

Rigsby: Do you mean Ma’am that David Conway realised the balloon was up so, he committed suicide?

Jones: Well, we don’t know that he had committed suicide. Whether he did or not, we know for sure he didn’t do it in Scotland, more likely something happened in or near Cirencester

Rigsby: So, where do we go from here Ma’am?

Jones: Well, we have a number of things we need to do. First, we need to avoid clashing with those arrogant bastards from MI5. Secondly, we need to send someone to Cirencester to find out more about David Conway’s activities over the last week or so. Thirdly, we need to keep Samantha Conway safe. Finally, we need to find out more about Global Software, including the entire board of directors and the senior management team

Rigsby: I am happy to make all the arrangements for the safe placement of Samantha Conway Ma’am

Jones: No, that’s not the best use of your valuable time, Jack. I would rather you went to Cirencester to see what you can dig up on David Conway

Rigsby: Very well ma’am, I will get on with it right away. I believe I can get there by train from Paddington Station

Jones: Cirencester has not had a train station for many years, so the train will take you to a nearby town like Kemble or Swindon but then you have to take a taxi. I suggest you drive there. Take a car from the pool

Rigsby: Yes Ma’am. What about Global Software?

Jones: Let’s keep Constable Appleby on it, she seems to be getting some interesting results so far, but send her in to see me before you leave to Cirencester please

*****

Mandy, the receptionist at “Jackson Hall and Gibson” Law firm dialled Richard Hall’s office.

Mandy: Excuse me Mr Hall, there is a gentleman at reception asking to see you but he has no appointment on my screen

Hall: Get one of our pool lawyers to see him Mandy

Mandy: I already offered but he insists he must see you personally

Hall: Did he say what he wanted?

Mandy: No Mr Hall Hall: Did he at least give his name?

Mandy: Yes, his name is David Conway

To be continued…

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