Software can listen to every word

Reviewing audio records is time consuming and expensive unless the right technology is in place, says Epiq Systems


The monitoring of voice recordings is one of the trickiest parts of regulatory compliance. Corporations may be required to record every client-related employee conversation.

Should an investigation arise within a corporation, the recordings are typically handed over to lawyers or paralegals who must then listen to them in real time; an hour of recorded audio needs at least one hour to play back and potentially more to review.

The expense can become astronomical. In addition, the legal team listening to the recordings have previously had no means of searching through the calls by keyword, comparing similar calls or other analysis.

Epiq Systems offers a variety of new approaches to analysing audio recordings to reduce this review burden.

One method is based on phonemic indexing. Phonemes are the basic sounds which make up words. The English language has 50 different phonemes, for example, while Japanese has 22. The recorded speech is converted into phonemes. The audio is now searchable by keywords, which are also converted into a phonemic representation and matched to the index with a high degree of accuracy.

Alternatively, Epiq can deploy advanced automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to create a machine transcript, which can then be searched as a text document. Lawyers can instantly review thousands of hours of audio for keywords or phrases to help identify vital areas for analysis. Context-specific iterative adjustment can then enhance accuracy.

Lawyers and other personnel can use Epiq’s technology to create groups of keyword-responsive materials, highlight relevant passages and discover vital conversations buried in hours or days of mundane chatter.

Epiq can also employ speaker recognition capability. Everyone has a unique voice and a voice print can be calculated for each speaker. In many corporations, employees move from desk to desk and communicate using a variety of phones. Epiq’s methodology means a corporation can pull up all of the calls made by a particular individual no matter where or how those calls are made.

Sentiment analysis is a technique allowing for certain styles of communication to be pinpointed. Epiq can parse through months of conversations by a large number of different individuals to locate the raised voices and added cross-talk found in the most argumentative or angry conversations. It is possible to cross-reference these moments with keywords to zoom in on specific flashpoints.

Epiq’s technology can be deployed as needed, for example during the disclosure phase of litigation or on a permanent basis, to monitor potentially high-risk conversations. The technology can be installed on client premises or in Epiq’s own highly secure data centres, as preferred.

The return on investment can be significant. Cost-savings from massively reducing the quantity of recorded conversations that must be reviewed by legal teams can run into the millions.

Nick Rich, director of global legal solutions at Epiq, says: “Our process tames the beast. Audio is an essential part of compliance and disclosure for all sorts of financial services firms. Unless you deploy the right technology and process, audio is time consuming and expensive to deal with. Epiq’s audio workflow has the potential to be a game-changer.”

For more information contact Martin Bonney, director of international consulting services (mbonney@epiqsystems.co.uk), or Nick Rich, director of global legal solutions (nrich@epiqsystems.co.uk). Telephone +44 20 7367 9191 or visit http://www.epiqsystems.co.uk/ediscovery/audio-review/