Intelligence analysts strive to share data
- By Dawn S. Onley
- May 21, 2003
'We have been slowly getting through the security hurdles to move to the Web,' CIA deputy CIO Bobby W. Brady says.
The volume of foreign intelligence information the CIA collects each day in Iraq and other hot spots around the globe pits the agency against a mountain of data.
Deputy CIO Bobby W. Brady said the CIA compiles a lot of valuable information, but the time it takes for analysts to sift through the massive heaps of files for leads to terrorists slows down other processes and needs to be faster.
'We've got a lot of data sitting around today that probably has a lot of [information] on terrorists,' Brady said. But compiling the data and boiling it down into a useful form is time-consuming because it comes from so many sources.
'Because we can't get to it, this is a major deal for this agency,' he added. 'We will be spending a lot of money dealing with this particular issue'standardizing how we do our work.'
One way for the CIA to better manage the volume of data and reduce the complexity of its information systems is to put applications on the Web, Brady said.
'We have been slowly getting through the security hurdles to move to the Web,' he said.
The agency also expects to see significant results in data sharing through the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
TTIC will serve as the central hub in the United States for foreign and domestic terrorist information. The center will maintain a database of known and suspected terrorists that will be accessible to intelligence agencies, as a 'one-stop shop for all bad-guy information,' Brady said.
Winston P. Wiley, CIA's associate director of central intelligence for homeland security and chairman of the TTIC Joint Senior Steering Group, said the center will work to put a number of agencies on the same page in tracking down terrorists.Secure interfaces
Center employees will build on the Intelligence Community System for Information Sharing, a system still in the early stages of development, which will provide secure gateway interfaces between networks with varying classification levels.
Wiley said the system offers unprecedented access to information for all TTIC participants and their state and local counterparts in some instances.
'TTIC analysts will have available to them the intelligence community's most powerful analytic tools for searching, analyzing, linking and visualizing the data holdings to best understand the terrorist threat picture,' he said.
ICSIS automatically removes top-secret information, mostly on sources and methods, from intelligence reports before allowing analysts who don't hold top-secret clearances to review them, officials said.
TTIC will utilize 'the most advanced systems and techniques that are available, accredited and consistent with its mission objectives,' Wiley said.
The center, at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., aims to mesh into one data source the terrorism intelligence gathered by the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security Department, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and National Security Agency, among others.
Brady said about 50 intelligence analysts have been assigned to work at the center'a number that he said would increase in coming years.
At a recent breakfast sponsored by Input, a Reston, Va., research company, Brady told an audience of vendors that the CIA needs help to move toward centralizing servers in foreign embassies and developing language translation technologies.
Agents all over the world are collecting information in several languages, Brady said, and that information needs to be more quickly translated and disseminated.