. "11. The Significance of Crosscutting Challenges and Technologies." Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.
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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
new generation of database-management-system technology will be required. The following issues are critical to establishing the relevant databases drawn from the multiple sources needed for counterterrorism system modeling and decision making:
Quantity and relevance,
Capabilities for data and database integration,
Data models and database management architectures, and
Ideally, the development of models for large-scale systems should work backwards: from an understanding of the nature of the desired results, through the model, back to the required data. Given the increasing level and sophistication of counterterrorism threats to the United States and the consequent importance of activities involving counterterrorism-related model development, it will be possible to initiate selected data-collection efforts for obtaining further information about critical infrastructures and other relevant systems. However, because of the cost and time required for data collection, future modeling efforts must rely (at least in part) on data sources originally designed to serve other purposes. The use of current data resources for counterterrorism, however, requires the development of significant capabilities for data filtering, quality control, and other procedures to avoid inefficiency and information overload.
In a similar spirit, one of the major applications of database-management systems for countering terrorism will be data mining—the analysis of historical and current online data, often from disparate information sources, to discern patterns. Much work remains to be done, however, before attaining that capability. Today’s commercial technology is highly dependent on clean, well-structured data, such as credit card transactions and cell-phone records, which might be scarce or nonexistent for suspected criminals and terrorists; thus the capacity to process other kinds of data will be needed. Moreover, nonstructured data such as text, images, and video are not especially well handled by commercial technology, although promising research in this area is currently under way. (For more discussion of data mining and information fusion, see Chapter 5, Information Technology.)
One major beneficiary of improved information management technologies would be the agencies responsible for gathering and analyzing intelligence data (including the FBI, CIA, and NSA). Currently one of their significant problems is managing a flood of data that may be relevant to their efforts to track suspected terrorists and their activities. There are well-known examples in which planned terrorist activities went undetected despite the fact that evidence was available to spot it—the relevant evidence was just one needle in a huge haystack. The use of sophisticated data-mining tools for the analysis of intelligence on nuclear smug-