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Networking Information for Homeland Security

Federal, state and local agencies charged with the task of identifying national threats need a tool that allows them to compile, compare, connect, and share a mountain of distributed information. The challenges are manifold:

  • Important information is distributed – everywhere.
  • The important pieces are not being connected.
  • Awareness of Important information needs to be controlled

     

THE LINKSPACE SOLUTION

THE CHALLENGES ARE DAUNTING

WHY STANDARD AUTOMATED TOOLS AREN’T ENOUGH

THE POWER OF LINKSPACE

MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMUNITY

     For the Analyst

     For the Agent and Technician

     For the Agency Information Manager

THE LINKSPACE SOLUTION

LinkSpace networks information. LinkSpace allows users to create a record of relationships between elements of information. The relationships represent knowledge –connecting distributed information with structured context and meaning. These relationships are then shared with others who may utilize the relationships to discover that knowledge.
 

This record of relationships enables users to be aware of related information, augmenting the utility of the data collection. With this real-time sharing and awareness of information, the group as a whole and its individual members rapidly gain knowledge of relationships they hadn’t perceived.
 

The process is cumulative. As the LinkSpace network grows and its elements interact – as individual insights are shared and group awareness is sharpened – the network of distributed information becomes increasingly valuable for link analysis and visualization. Thus, LinkSpace grows knowledge.
 

Finally, LinkSpace enables agency-designated controllers to define and manage awareness and access. This structured two tiered awareness-and-access management approach balances the need for broad distribution with the need to protect private and secure information. The awareness of the relationships that an element of information participates in, and the knowledge these relationships represent, can be managed based on the system user’s roles and privileges.
This assures that awareness of relationships is discreetly shared. Meanwhile, traditional network privilege management and document control can assure that private or secure information is accessed on a “need to know” basis.
 

THE CHALLENGES ARE DAUNTING

Important information is distributed – everywhere.

Maintained in diverse locations:

  • Open literature
  • Commercial networks
  • State and local networks
  • Law Enforcement Agency networks
  • Defense & Intelligence Agency networks

Stored in diverse formats:

  • Structured Data
  • Unstructured Documents
  • Non-text information

Used and maintained by diverse individuals and entities with specialized missions, knowledge and expertise:

  • Different businesses
  • Different federal departments and agencies
  • Different end-users (e.g. analysts, field agents, technicians)
  • Potentially different levels of government and allied intelligence agencies

Merging of all information resources is not possible. Moreover, most of the information is not important to Homeland Security

The important pieces are not being connected.

Knowledge is in the understanding of connections or relationships among important distributed information.

  • Relationships can give meaning to otherwise meaningless information
  • Relationships can change information
  • Relationships can have new meanings in light of real-time global events

There is no uniform method for capturing and sharing knowledge of relationships among distributed information.

Awareness of Important information needs to be controlled

  • High distribution causes information overload
  • Resources can contain personal or national security information
  • Information must be presented in context to convey its importance

WHY STANDARD AUTOMATED TOOLS AREN’T ENOUGH

In order to solve these challenges, automated tools have been created that search and categorize different sources. For example, Search Engines facilitate research within the mountain of information on the Internet and on other networks, while Portals, Directories and Databases organize pools of specialized information.

Unfortunately, no amount of static categorization can replace human intelligence in understanding relationships among widely-distributed pieces of information. Handling the complexities of the Homeland Security shared information requires identifying, validating, and weaving together the seemingly (or previously) unrelated pieces of information that constitute a security threat. No computer program can replace the skills of the analyst, the field agent, and the technician in managing these complex relationships. Nor can automation exercise the leaps of logic that effective problem-solving demands.

Thus, the best automated tools will enhance the human collaboration that is at the heart of the intelligence process. For this, a new solution is required.

THE POWER OF LINKSPACE

A piece of information passively filed in a Field Agent’s desk drawer has very little value to the Homeland Security community. Without awareness of the information or access to it, the community cannot use it – either alone, or in coordination with other information. Thus, if that piece of information can be placed in an accessible repository, its value increases. And if that repository is then indexed for search, making the piece of information more accessible, its value increases yet again. Yet, it is still a single piece of information, one of billions, unrelated to other information that can give it meaning. Only if that single record can be networked to other relevant pieces of information does it acquire significance. As in all networks, if one resource does not provide a solution, it will be connected to a resource that does. Today, human beings – in departments, offices and agencies – provide that networking through their expertise and group interactions. It is this human intelligence that ultimately adds value to distributed information by “connecting-the-dots.” LinkSpace allows users to capture and share these connections. The network of distributed information created by LinkSpace adds a new layer of understanding and organization to distributed information.

In addition, LinkSpace lets information participate in this new layer of understanding and organization yet remain where it is owned and maintained. Each agency participating in Homeland Security has its own portals, search engines, shared networks, and structured data stores that help organize information for access in support of their mission. Unfortunately, for users without perfect knowledge of these information architectures, they become an implicit barrier to discovery. LinkSpace can connect information regardless of where it is maintained, allowing users to hurdle the hierarchical boundaries of networks, portals, search engines and file systems that limit awareness.

Clearly, there is need for an electronic system that can serve as a “force multiplier,” serving the needs of the Homeland Security community through cross-connecting information, micro-fusing important intelligence information, and bringing all relevant distributed elements into play. Such a network increases the value of individual pieces of intelligence dramatically. Moreover, it opens the possibility of even larger-scale connections, bringing many networks into sync and providing the Homeland Security community with a major new distributed knowledge sharing - and - awareness asset.

MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMUNITY

For the Analyst

The Problem: Analysts sort through mountains of resources for important information needed to assimilate into finished intelligence products. Distributed information is not organized like a traditional library, where, once you locate a book on a particular subject, it is easy to find related material on nearby shelves. Analysts need tools to capture knowledge discovered during a search so it can be recovered during the fusion process, shared across disciplines, reused for future tasking and reconsidered in light of new events.

The LinkSpace Solution: LinkSpace allows analysts to perform micro-fusion of information. Micro-fusion is the connecting, with explicitly defined relationships, of distributed pieces of information. Micro-fusion is the capturing of knowledge as it is discovered during the research process. These Micro-fused elements can be assimilated in the fusion process, shared with other analysts for cross-discipline awareness and be reevaluated intermittently for relevance.

These micro-fused elements become part of a network of information. As an analyst examines a piece of information, LinkSpace will stream to the analyst a series of links to all other information identified by other analysts as relevant to the information being viewed. In turn, the analyst may enhance the network of information by contributing his own findings and insights..

When the analyst views any link in the network, he will be made aware of related links that will contribute directly to his research. In this way, analysts will avoid the typical “create-your-own,” start-from-scratch search patterns that waste so much research time across offices and agencies. They will be connected very directly to relevant information, taking advantage of the pool of ongoing intelligence work.

The analyst will also benefit from colleagues’ real-time input on changing events. Perhaps most importantly, he will be made aware of key information that he was not actively seeking – information “he didn’t know he needed to know.”

LinkSpace can also alert “cleared” analysts that information they are viewing is related to material in other, compartmented directories. With this awareness, an analyst can then request access authority to those additional directories.

Finally, the network of information can be analyzed in the aggregate with link analysis and visualization tools for patterns of relationships.

For the Agent and Technician

The Problem: The inter-governmental digital divide. People in the field do not have perfect knowledge of the Homeland Security information architecture and may search in the wrong place, for the wrong thing, or not at all. Neither do they have the skills or tools to contribute.

The LinkSpace Solution: With LinkSpace, disparate resources can be connected in a way that puts important information in the path of discovery using a web browser with LinkSpace installed. For example, a Dade County FL detective can create a relationship between a suspect’s driver’s license record in a NY State database and a pending case in a Dade County FL municipal database. Other investigators that view the NY State driver’s license record in the course of an unrelated investigation can be made aware that the individual is involved with other cases.

This sharing and awareness is unprecedented. With LinkSpace, any relevant piece of information can become a portal or a touch point exposing related content. You can share with the “unknown user” because your material carries its own flags, by being networked to other links.

It also is an achievable near-term solution because it uses common hardware and software and can operate securely on networks such as RISS.NET. It does not require recreating the information infrastructure.

For the Agency Information Manager

The Problem: Transformation. You have attempted to aggregate content on your network in such a way that it can be searched and shared. You are challenged to continually improve the management of the data as the volume grows to assure the volume does not hamper accessibility. The sophisticated application of taxonomy and metadata techniques – even if applied optimally in a search – may still return incomprehensible data sets as the volume of information grows. The promise of increasing value with increasing information fades. Now, as part of the transformation for Homeland Security, your uniquely important expertise and datasets have to be shared. To leverage the nation’s intelligence investment, and to improve Homeland Security efforts, these disparate datasets must somehow be coordinated with other repositories and made accessible to other agencies. It is impractical and undesirable to standardize all data or merge it into a huge, centralized, inflexible, least-common-denominator repository. Yet without greater interoperability, the synergies of our people and resources are not being realized.

The LinkSpace Solution: Rather than recreating your information architectures, use LinkSpace and allow your information to be controlled and maintained within your agency while participating in a Network of Homeland Security Information. Manage separate controls on awareness and access to assure the widest sharing of awareness while assuring distribution on a need to know basis.

THE LINKSPACE ADVANTAGE

The Network of Information created by LinkSpace provides the intelligence community with a major new asset, one that increases its capabilities and impact exponentially. That is the LinkSpace Advantage.

To learn more about LinkSpace, we welcome your inquiries at info@linkspace.net – or contact Tom Bascom, LinkSpace President and Founder, at (703) 848-9841.

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