Data as defense against IEDs

The Defense Department has a new weapon against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq after fielding a data analysis tool that identifies and tracks the insurgent organizations responsible for planting and detonating the deadly devices.

DOD's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) recently began using data analysis tools that detect and monitor connections between groups and individuals to identify the potential support networks of militants staging IED attacks.

The solution employs several data analysis capabilities, including data and text analysis, predictive modeling, and optimization to develop intelligence on parties that are the likeliest sources of IEDs. Borrowing from techniques used by government agencies and the private sector in the United States and United Kingdom to detect and prevent fraud, the tools identify and analyze linkages using social-network theory to ferret out the operational, financial and social networks of violent militant groups.

The tools process data from relevant sources to create intelligence reports on the organization and finances of those responsible for IEDS in addition to their organiational structure, character, interactions and methods. The solution's client tools and ability to customize the creation and delivery of reports gives users intelligence in the format most useful for making decisions, and the tools can be used by personnel with all levels of security classification, according to SAS.

Before deploying the capability, JIEDDO and the vendors had to define common formats and vocabularies for data to allow inputs from multiple sources, including information collected in the field or gathered elsewhere by DOD and other federal agencies. The vendors and DOD also had to establish data quality standards to eliminate errors caused by inconsistencies in data collected from a variety of sources using nonstandard formats and templates, including manually keyed data and handwritten reports, for example.

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