sophisticated data management systems and decision-processing capabilities would be necessary to assemble and evaluate the needed data and to interpret and use the results. A goal of any of these trusted user programs would be to more effectively deploy screening resources, but good data management systems would be necessary to track the trusted users and to provide assurance that they really were trustworthy. Other new technologies, such as biometrics, might also be necessary to allow accurate identification of individuals who qualify as “trusted.” However, biometrics, as discussed later in this section, are far from foolproof; for example, physical characteristics vary with age, and the data are subject to the time and conditions under which they were gathered.
Also, data mining has major privacy implications. Efforts to address these implications and mitigate their negative aspects include data-mining algorithms that discover general trends without requiring full disclosure of individuals’ data records. Still, this zero-knowledge approach has limits. Attempts to identify terrorists could regularly require that an intelligence agency ask other government agencies and content providers for data on connections between individuals. (See Chapter 5 for more on privacy issues.)
Even in a nonterrorism context, data mining could save lives. For example, public health officials could collect and analyze real-time data describing admissions to hospital emergency rooms, monitor purchases of medications, inspect school-attendance records, and integrate this information with background information about the residence and job locations of affected patients both to pinpoint a biological outbreak and identify others at risk.
The development of database-management standards, though generally a lengthy process, is clearly needed. Such standards can be developed—possibly by industry/government agency consortia—if the members perceive sufficient value for their respective constituencies. In some cases, the government may assume funding responsibility. However, these standards efforts may not be successful if they are not well aligned with commercial markets, whose evolution—for the understanding of linked critical infrastructures and operational systems—would be a significant step toward developing data-collection systems and standards for counterterrorism applications.
Because homeland defense against terrorist-delivered weapons of mass destruction will involve the entire spectrum of military and federal, state, and local government personnel, as well as volunteer organizations, the scenarios under which sensors will be needed and the protocols for their use may be as varied as each group’s specific mission. The DOD and DOE have long been active in developing sensors, but these devices were intended largely for the protection of battlefield troops and the units that support them.
There are some important differences in the basic characteristics of military-