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Nalytics & FOI

What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?


The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. The main principle behind freedom of information legislation is that people have a right to know about the activities of public authorities, unless there is a good reason for them not to.


Organisations must respond to requests promptly, with a time limit acting as the longest time that can be taken. Under the Act, most public authorities may take up to 20 working days to respond.


What are the implications for companies?


Responding to FOI requests can place a huge burden on organisations. Requests often involve searches across multiple departments, systems and data sources. Where information is well structured and the requests are relatively straight forward, structured queries can be performed to gather answers for responses. However in reality, one FOI request often spawns multiple sub-requests across different departments and will involve finding answers within unstructured data or the free text narratives held within systems, emails and documents. The time needed to find the required information and collate responses to freedom of information requests can be substantial. Many organisations do not have personnel dedicated to this task. Often people asked to respond to FOI requests must do this as well as their ‘day job’. This increased workload puts a strain on individuals and organisations. Given the time needed to work on FOI requests, there is obviously a large financial cost as well.


How can Nalytics help?


With its unique indexing technology Nalytics is well suited to indexing and searching unstructured data sources, and for answering questions asking, "how many..." where the values in question are not coded and inherently countable. i.e. how many planning applications mention greenfield, schools or golf courses?


Simple to use reporting tools enable anyone to quickly and easily calculate value and volume based FOI responses.


Organisations responding to FOI requests regularly face challenges when disclosing documents where there are particular words or phrases that contain sensitive information and are therefore exempt from disclosure. Manual redaction of sensitive information can be a long-winded process often involving black markers and multiple photocopies. With Nalytics, sensitive information is easily redacted in-situ thus mitigating data breaches.


Why Nalytics?

Nalytics has a range of easy to use tools to facilitate the fast and precise location of information, including-


  • Variable scope search: Look for results where search terms are all in the same sentence, paragraph or document, to moderate the number and relevancy of results.


  • Contextual results: Resulting search terms are shown in the context of the sentences they occur in to make it quick and easy to determine which results merit further investigation.


  • Filters: Use the documents’ own metadata (such as document type, date modified, author, and so on) or define your own (to tag or otherwise categorise your data), to filter results and ensure only the most relevant information is returned, thus reducing the amount of information to be reviewed.


  • Entity extraction: Enhance data sets to identify entities such as people, places, organisations, and so on.


  • Pattern Matching: Identify elements such as email addresses, dates of birth, passport numbers, driving license numbers, credit card numbers or anything else that is structured in a recognisable pattern.



Save Time - Nalytics facilitates the fast, precise and accurate location of information.


Increase Efficiency - Nalytics can reduce the time spent by organisations on FOI requests.


Reduce Risk - Nalytics helps you minimise the risk of breaching FOI legislation.

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