New data sources at the heart of homeland security
Global Director, Business Development, e-Government, Security & Alliances for the Public and Defense sector
Global Head of Homeland Security
Posted on: 15 March 2018
Just like everything in this world, there are both challenges and benefits to the explosion of data sources when it comes to managing homeland security.
The biggest challenge is how to manage and make use of an enormous volume of data from numerous different sources. 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This is only going to grow. Finding ways to collect, manage and analyze this data is a necessary challenge for those in charge of homeland security. A balance needs to be found between sifting out too little information and having a number of false alarms and sifting out too much information and potentially missing something vital.
The next big challenge is the speed at which technology changes and advances. New connected devices, apps and ways of communicating come on stream daily. Ensuring that a system is set up to be future-proofed is hugely important if you’re investing time, resources and money into a project.
Lastly is the challenge of interoperability and security. There must be a way to ensure the smooth sharing of data that doesn’t encroach of the rights of citizens. This is an extremely sensitive topic. Not only from privacy perspective but it is also closely linked to inter-agency as well as international agreements between countries. Security applications and procedures are therefore an important part of creating a homeland security solution that works.
The use of data and emerging technologies has been happening on a largescale for a number of years now. The benefits in terms of being able to predict and prevent issues are well-known and homeland security teams across the globe are exploring various options.
Access to real-time information can also inform and drive decision-making ensuring the right response at the right time and avoiding potentially dangerous situations.
It is impossible for any Security Service to have the capacity to track a number of high-risk individuals without the use of technology. This is where automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. These technologies can enable the sifting through of a huge amount of data. The use of AI will also mean that your system will get smarter the more work it does and the more it is refined with the right information. This offers huge potential in the fight to keep citizens safe.
However, it is important to understand that the automated solutions cannot and should not make a decision to act. The solutions can help the national security agencies process and analyze information to save valuable time and reduce the workload for people, but they cannot replace the human capacity to make decisions.
How can it be done?
The task can look daunting. The use cases are potentially limitless, which can result in a huge project definition. Ambition can be too big which will be both expensive and risky.
The key is to start with manageable, defined outcomes in mind. Using test cases with flagged events of interest and based on patterns that can potentially be defined is useful in testing accuracy. Following best practice and proven technologies will enable you to build a system that has longevity and isn’t going to be so bespoke that it becomes obsolete with the next technological advance. Ensuring there can be an easy path to scaling of the solution but also integration of new technologies is a must.
What is needed is a combination of high performance computing power and data gathering and analysis platforms, which can offer real-time analytics as well as investigation and visualization of results. For this process you will need both data scientists and those who understand the business of homeland security.
Keep testing throughout the process, the key is early detection of an issue and ensuring you’re refining the analytics approach all the way through so you get the desired outcome.
We spoke about privacy and security above. Data access and sharing are indeed key components of a great solution but keep in mind - all the way through - the need for appropriate security protocols, procedures and access requirements. These need to keep you within the law and potentially within international agreements but also need to make sense from a user perspective – flexibility and speed are vital. Make sure you’re considering this throughout the project.
The best way to success is to have ambition but understand that you will start with a specific project outcome in mind and build a road map to where you want to be. Our homeland security systems will be completely revolutionised in time but the journey to get to where they need to be and where we can all sleep easy will be long. In fact, with technology changing as often as it does, you’ll have to keep developing and refining your solutions in order to stay one step ahead of those who wish to do the public harm.