Americas

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by Anne Skamarock

Bush outlines plans for comprehensive defense database

Opinion
Feb 04, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Total Information Awareness program integrates defense data

Well, you heard it last week.  President Bush is instructing the leaders of the national police forces, the CIA, FBI, Homeland Defense Department and the Department of Defense to develop what he calls a “Terrorist Threat Integration Center.” The goal of this “Integration Center” is to collect, merge, and analyze all threat information in a single location to have the “very best information” possible.

Wouldn’t we ALL like to have the very best information possible in making our day-to-day decisions about how to move forward in our businesses?

You have heard me say before in this column that we are very good at collecting data but not quite there with managing information. Obviously, the government feels it’s time to push forward in this area and that the technologies, if not quite there yet, are close. 

Even though the President announced the initiative in his State of the Union address, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is already on board with a Web site describing the initiative.  It’s called the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program and it comes from the Information Awareness Office (IAO), which was formed in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The goals of this program are to investigate and develop a prototype that encompasses:

* Language translation technologies.

* Data search and pattern recognition technologies.

* Advanced collaborative and decision support tools.

One of their (and I would argue everyone’s) biggest challenges is to quickly search and correlate data from the many databases maintained by the different agencies.  Doesn’t THAT sound like a familiar problem?!

This is the first year of a program that is expected to last about five years. The program participants intend to research companies that have products available today in the technology areas outlined above, drawing as much capability as they are able to, and gathering “off the shelf” products to develop the prototype. As we have seen in the past, some of the research that comes out of DARPA is available to the commercial sector, for example, the Internet. It is possible that within the next 10 years, businesses will be able to use elements that come out of the program in commercially viable ways that complement the data and storage management abilities that are evolving.

Truly, we are at the dawn of the Information Era. It is exciting and a frightening at the same time.