Big Data Changes the Intelligence Game

Big Data Changes the Intelligence Game

There was a time when intelligence gathering or investigative work - or at least, their popular images - revolved around dangerous men trying to get their hands on secret files, confidential documents or invaluable disks. Of course, some of this still holds true. In a very real sense, though, the modern intelligence analyst or investigator now deals with the opposite problem. The sheer volume of data from myriad sources almost threatens to overwhelm efforts to parse them for meaning.

That’s why organizations as the Central Intelligence Agency - as well as the rest of the ‘alphabet agencies’ - are increasingly turning to big data analytics to solve cases.

Reading the news before it happens

A little over a year ago, the CIA initiated its first new directorate since 1963: the Directorate in Digital Innovation. This new department focuses on increasing and leveraging the CIA’s use of both information technology and cyberwarfare expertise. The agency credits this implementation of big data intelligence analysis with creating Minority Report-like foresight.

“We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability some I think as near as three to five days out,” Deputy Director Andrew Hallman told an audience at The Next Tech forum in October 2016. “What we’re trying to do within a unit of my directorate is leverage what we know from social sciences on the development of instability, coups and financial instability, and take what we know from the past six or seven decades and leverage what is becoming the instrumentation of the globe.”

Social media changed the intelligence landscape

Social media networks generate a huge amount of this new data flooding into intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world. The International Association of Chiefs of Police found 88.7 percent of 553 U.S. agencies reported they employed social media data in criminal investigations. Specifically, 75 percent used social media for intelligence gathering and analysis, and 79.2 percent leveraged it for crime prevention.

The data gathered from social media becomes even more valuable when indexed and cross-referenced with other sets of information, including telecommunications records, location tracking and eyewitness reports. One of the major issues here, however, is how all this information is distributed across different formats, platforms and networks. You might suspect that a person of interest was lying about their location - but with a geo-located tweet, you can actually prove it. The trick is getting those two pieces of info next to each other.

Beyond raw data volumes, intelligence and law enforcement officers need robust digital investigatory platforms to make sense of all these resources.

Strong analytics can pull signal from the noise

Visallo is a big data investigative system that gives law enforcement officers and intelligence analysts the critical tools to deal with fast-growing datasets. By allowing investigators to aggregate a wide variety of different sources into a single platform, Visallo can create powerful visual representations of connections between data. Instinct and experience will always play the most important role in the process. Technology can augment that learned ability by applying it to a much broader arena simultaneously.

The benefits of Visallo extend to a suite of real-time collaboration tools with granular access controls. System administrators can restrict access privileges for different users in advance, making sure that everyone gets the data they need without exposing the entire system to leaks or breaches. For investigations drawing in multiple people, Visallo lets each user work their angle on the overall problem while sharing relevant insights and connections with the whole network.

Criminals and malicious agents now leave trails throughout cyberspace, and investigators chasing them need a big data analytics platform with the same reach.

Contact us to schedule a demo and see why our system is right for you.