Blog, Semantic Intelligence

Intelligence and data sharing–where are we now?

Data sharing failures have filled the headlines this year. From last year’s Christmas bomber to the latest WikiLeaks, it’s clear that the frustration caused by poor information and intellience practices (as well as anemic computer systems) can be felt world wide.

The news from our government isn’t reassuring. According to an article from the Los Angeles Times:

“Lawmakers have been pushing for a capability to search across the government’s vast library of terrorism information, but intelligence officials say there are serious technical and policy hurdles. The databases are written in myriad computer languages; different legal standards are employed on how collected information can be used; and there is reluctance within some agencies to share data.”

The connection is then made to last year’s Christmas bomber:
“That makes it harder to connect disparate pieces of threat information, which is exactly what went wrong in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab…”

As a former intelligence analyst, I understand the frustration, especially when so much is at stake. As a semantic technology professional, I can’t help but think about how semantic technology could have made a difference in these equations.

Take a look at our analysis of the Christmas bomber issue from last year. Based on the timeline of known facts as reported by The New York Times, and represented retroactively, the analysis uses our Cogito semantic platform to illustrate how semantic technology could have connected the dots, and provided a view of what an analyst would have concluded over time. Hindsight is 20-20—but when it comes to the public’s safety, shouldn’t foresight be as close to perfect as it can be?

One year later, I wonder what we have learned, and how, if at all, our intelligence practices have changed.

As James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence told the Washington Times,

“We are working on information-sharing initiatives across the board…but the classic dilemma of need to share versus need to know is still with us…the Wikileaks episode represents a big yellow flag. I think it is going to have a very chilling effect on the need to share.”

 


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