Crime-fighting computer powers

Wynyard chief technology officer Roger Jarquin. Photo supplied.
Wynyard chief technology officer Roger Jarquin. Photo supplied.
Wynyard Group may be the new kid on the block but it has already racked up awards and contracts. Business editor Dene Mackenzie talks to Wynyard chief technology officer Roger Jarquin.

Roger Jarquin is still doing the things he loves the best after more than 30 years in New Zealand working with technology.

Mr Jarquin is having fun by working on software projects that he believes are rewarding and make a difference to the world. In this case, Wynyard is helping global agencies fight crime.

Mr Jarquin was lured to New Zealand more than 30 years ago by the founder of Aoraki Corporation Sir Gil Simpson, initially on a three-year project to help develop a new computer language.

At the time, he was working with Unisys in the United States and his research was aligned with what Sir Gil was working on in New Zealand.

Sir Gil had developed the Linc language which enables large companies to respond to market pressures by providing a simple and cost-effective programming environment.

After comparing notes, Sir Gill said he wanted Mr Jarquin to move to New Zealand to build a new platform.

''This was for three years only. I got three years' leave from Unisys. For a young researcher, having a clean slate to build a brand new platform is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. So I moved here with my young family.''

The three years turned into four. The commercialisation of Linc saw the establishment of Aoraki Corporation, now known as Jade Software Corporation.

Mr Jarquin said Linc had a lot of life left in it when he arrived, and it was not until the early 1990s Jade came into its own.

''We eventually achieved what we wanted to do but it took longer than expected. Jade Software was developed.''

Now, Wynyard, which was spun out of Jade and listed on the NZX, was a large user of Jade, he said.

With a background in economics, Mr Jarquin was a ''heavy user'' of mathematics and statistics.

He noted in the mid-2000s a change to the way computer power was used for analysis, along with increased bandwidth, provided masses of data.

''We are swimming in data and somehow we needed to squeeze that data. I started thinking about crystalising what intelligence was being received. That is what won us an award. What we are doing in Wynyard is cutting edge.''

The award Mr Jarquin mentioned was for an innovative product of the year, judged by a panel which included co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak.

''We were sitting there with some high quality products - software and hardware - and it was rewarding for the team to know they were there with the best.''

After a night of celebration, Mr Jarquin got the team together and said it was back to reality.

''The award only raises the bar. It doesn't mean we are there yet.''

Wynyard was recruiting during last year, taking on eight new people. That was rewarding as people were wanting to work for the company, he said.

Some of the staff arriving at Wynyard had received good offers elsewhere but still wanted to work for the company.

Wynyard specialised in advanced crime analysis, helping to solve crime which ranged from law enforcement to financial fraud.

The company worked with the New Zealand Police and various other authorities. This year, Wynyard is ramping up its involvement with the police, beyond the projects already awarded, he said.

''The police have to be thorough about who works with them.''

Wynyard has identified Southeast Asia as a growth opportunity with chief executive Craig Richardson accompanying Prime Minister John Key on a visit last year to Thailand.

The Australian Federal Police was using Wynyard products to help investigate crime in the area, including drug trafficking.

Asked about how Wynyard marketed its products to potential customers, Mr Jarquin was cautious.

The company did not tailor its products to customers but the programs could be adapted for different market needs. The four major programs were risk management, digital forensics, investigations and intelligence.

''Because we have a very specialised product, we know the doors that need to be knocked. These include financial institutions and law enforcement agencies.

''What we try to do is enter with one product and expand - `land and expand'.''

Mr Jarquin was quick to point out Wynyard does not keep any data and had the motto of ''don't do to others what you don't want done to you''.

Because Wynyard was split out of Jade, it was not a start-up but a mature company with world-class software engineers.

And that allowed Mr Jarquin to return to the things he loves best: developing new products and programs which make a difference.

''What I like to do is create things.

''Here, we do research and development with talented staff. I ask myself: Is my work meaningful, does it matter, and does it help society? You can have fun and enjoy work but it can lack meaning.

''Crime is growing in the world more than ever. The growth of gangs in the United States is mind-blowing, and it's growing. Human trafficking is on the rise. If our products can help people combat crime, it makes my day.''

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