Situational awareness is key for the public sector, and creating and maintaining it is a constant battle. As malicious actors become ever more innovative and advanced, agencies are coming to an understanding that they need to dedicate more resources to staying ahead of the game, and train their human and technological assets on the new realities of data gathering and analysis. And with increasingly larger parts of human experience being enacted, shared and registered digitally, the online sphere is becoming a more significant source of intelligence for situational awareness with every passing day.
The digital realm poses a complex challenge for intelligence gathering, due to the volume, the speed of dissemination and growth, and the variety of online content. The volume is massive and ever-growing, as the speed of new data creation stands at billions of new data points every day, and the variety encompasses text, speech, images, data signals – all often obscured by the endless permutations of languages, lingos, and evasion tactics and efforts made at hiding tracks and faking identities. Making sense of it all in real time to augment situational awareness requires the cutting edge in unstructured data collection and analysis.
Automation, scale and precision are the three pillars of the technologies supporting the efforts of the public sector to maintain their edge. Advanced AI-driven solutions use robust capabilities, including machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision and machine translation, to enable agencies to uncover answers previously impossible to detect.
The implementations of these powerful technologies are both ubiquitous and essential. Today, they are already supporting intelligence gathering and analysis for the mission-critical efforts of border security, risk assessment, cybersecurity and real-time investigations into suspected bad actors. Here are a few recent examples.
Hidden Insights for Dismantling a Network of Drug Traffickers
In a comprehensive investigation into a gang suspected of involvement in a variety of illicit trafficking activities, investigators from a large police department were able to automate the data gathering and analysis processes and expose the gang’s hidden connections, core members, main conversation topics and much more. This type of platform enabled the analysts to conduct a multi-dimensional investigation into individuals, groups and topics within minutes that previously could have taken days or weeks. The investigation unearthed – among other valuable insights – previously unknown mediators who had been facilitating the gang’s activities through financial, technical, and logistical support, as well as their networks, activities, and plans of operation.
Countering Terrorism with AI-driven Analysis of Open-Source Data
Last year, a country’s military intelligence division discovered terrorists communicating through a channel about which little was known. Analysts used an AI-driven analysis platform to obtain a real-time view of sentiments, trending topics, specific locations, professional affiliations, behaviors and relationships from this channel, including data inferred by the platform’s AI. These efforts enabled military intelligence to identify the key thought leaders and influencers, thereby preventing attacks.
Deep Insight Analysis for HUMINT Validation
Real-time situational awareness platforms are also becoming an essential tool to help field intelligence officers verify the identity of sources they’re considering for recruitment. These platforms are unrivaled in their ability to assess sources’ backgrounds, affinities and connections, and whether they truly have the access and relationships they claim.
In a recent case, military intelligence officers used these technologies to validate and corroborate potential agents’ or recruitment targets’ relationships and networks, including their connections to other individuals, groups, and organizations. Analysts also gained unique insights into the social, political, and cultural views as well as motivations and activities of their potential sources
Automated Actionable Intelligence: a Game-Changer
Analysts, agents and other professionals worldwide are already using AI-powered technological solutions for situational awareness to tackle challenges like fraud, crime, terror, insider threat, trafficking and other risks. These technologies search, aggregate and fuse data points and human behavior indicators from multiple data sources, intelligently processing and analyzing them to provide a holistic view of reality from insights that were previously unattainable. Using an innovative, scalable, and cognitive approach, these advanced technologies provide an unparalleled ability to interpret the complex layers of the digital world, helping to create a safer world for all.
The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.