DHS to use MetaCarta

Homeland Security officials will use an application that analyzes unstructured and structured data and mines any geographic references that can be depicted on a map.

The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate recently signed a one-year license to use a geographic information systems application developed by MetaCarta, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

Randy Ridley, the company's vice president and general manager for federal systems, said there are several software applications that provide similar functions but none that can bridge the gap between unstructured content and digital mapping. About 90 percent of data within an organization is unstructured, such as e-mails, reports, interviews, and other documents.

'I say it's true across DHS generally and true across the law enforcement community,' he said. 'The critical figure is any where from 70 to 80 percent of all the data that is unstructured or structured has implicit geographic references: place, name, street address, latitude and longitude.'

He said the application, which is also used in the intelligence community as well as in the Defense Department, can fuse data from multiple databases. For example, if there were three different reports about suspected individuals going to a flight training center in the same place then the application would be able to fuse that information and depict it on a map, he said.

'We can take all the different data whatever the source and through the common lens of geography fuse this picture together,' said Ridley.

He said he did not know how the IAIP will be using the product and he said he was not authorized to say how much the department paid for the license.

The company also recently provided the application to Arizona authorities, who will test it in their new intelligence fusion center called the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, for 90 days.

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